COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus otherwise known as SARS-CoV-2, which is a disease traditionally more highly directed at older adults and people with severe medical conditions. As of June 12th, COVID-19 has been recorded in every country in the world, with 7.6 million confirmed cases, and 423,000 deaths. The US represents 27 percent of that total, or 2.03 million confirmed cases, with the number of deaths totaling 114,065. In New York, which has the highest number of cases confirmed in the US, we represent 21 percent with 381,000 confirmed cases and 24,442 statewide deaths. In Putnam County, there are 1,282 confirmed cases and 60 deaths.
There are multiple theories about the origin of COVID-19. One of the most commonly believed theories is that the disease originated from bats in China, which caused the virus to spread inside and outside of China. But it infected people who had no direct contact with the bats, which means that the virus was spread from one person to another. It spread through European and Asian countries, and has now spread, and continues spreading, globally and is considered a global pandemic.
The coronavirus has put a pause on many events held around the world: theatrical events, concerts, graduations, dances, non-emergency surgeries, school, sporting contests, weddings, and so many personal events and celebrations.
Anthony Fauci, American physician and infection specialist, has taken a stand on how we should be treating the virus and controlling its spread. There are vaccines being developed and trials being conducted. The Phase III trial will be conducted at the beginning of July, which is the fastest time recorded from the discovery of a new infection to a widespread vaccine trial. Scientists and epidemiologists are hoping to have a vaccine ready for use by the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021 to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading.
In many areas and states, we are seeing positive signs: fewer cases, hospitalizations and coronavirus-related deaths are falling in some states. Other states are starting to open up; stores are reopening, non-emergency surgeries are being scheduled and many areas are allowing limited numbers of people into public areas.
But this doesn’t mean that the coronavirus is over and we can go back to normal and start throwing parties. It’s very important to keep protecting ourselves by wearing masks and gloves and maintaining diligent handwashing habits. It is still important to socially and physically distance ourselves and to be socially respectful. Andrew Cuomo, the governor of NYS, is guardedly optimistic, and like a watchdog, is monitoring the statistics in NY on a daily basis.
And so we are starting to see positive signs, but we must go forward cautiously. Regardless of the state of the world, it is June. And in the northeast quadrant of the country, that means summer.
And although we anxiously await the procedures we will follow in the fall, the school year will be officially over in a few short weeks. Many of us are busy planning summer activities and socially gathering, but remember that our health comes first.
Look for ways to enjoy these warm summer months at home until things return to what we knew as normal: you can finally watch all the movies and series you have been hearing about; you can read some good books even though there is no official ¨summer reading program¨ this year, you can experiment with all of the fresh produce available and practice healthy eating; you can exercise; you can try out some new hobbies. It’s very important to maintain contact with your friends and family, so stay safely social during these times – talk to your friends on the phone, text, Zoom or FaceTime. Stay safe and healthy!