EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — It has officially been over a year since the identification of a novel coronavirus originating in China, changing much of the world’s way of life. A staggering two million people have died worldwide from the disease. American deaths now account for about 20% of the global toll, despite accounting for just over 4% of the global population.
In Pennsylvania, the pandemic has claimed tens of thousands lives since the March 6 announcement of two positive cases in the state. The number of total cases in the state has risen to over 1,000,000 with thousands more being added each day, averaging over 2,000 a day.
The first death due to coronavirus was reported in Pennsylvania on March 18th in Northampton County. There have now been over 24,000 reported deaths statewide while thousands of others have been hospitalized across the state.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 90% of individuals have recovered. The percentage calculated counts for each case that has not been reported as a death, over 30 days past the date of the individual’s first positive test, or onset of symptoms.
Several vaccinations have been approved for emergency use but the rollout has been slow, with demand outpacing supply across the country. In Pennsylvania, even as millions have become eligible to receive the shots, access to them has been limited. The Your Turn app was recently launched by the state to help residents stay updated about their status.
A second coronavirus variant, first identified in the United Kingdom has now been found in several states, including Pennsylvania. This variant is not more dangerous than the original but is more contagious. It is not expected to be vaccine resistant.
Cases in Pennsylvania resurged as temperatures fell. This prompted an upgrade to the mask mandate and travel advisories. Despite the increases, businesses have been allowed to remain open since a mandated closure expired after the holiday season.
While schools were initially closed to mitigate the spread, districts have since reopened, either offering a full five-day schedule of in-person classes, remote learning
Mitigation restrictions began to be lifted on March 1, when Governor Tom Wolf announced increased capacity at venues would be allowed following a drop in coronavirus spread. Interstate travel without a COVID-19 test result is also being allowed again.
Here’s what we know about the virus:
On March 26, cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide crossed half a million. By April 3, that number doubled to 1 million cases. Global infections now stand at over 100 million.
There have now been over 500,000 deaths in the U.S and over 28 million cases in the country alone, exceeding China’s official case count by more than 300 times.
For the first time in history, every state and territory in the U.S. declared a disaster declaration simultaneously.
As of March, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that the novel coronavirus has a global mortality rate of about 3.4%. This is more than three times the seasonal flu which generally kills fewer than 1% of those infected. In comparison, according to estimates, the 2018-2019 seasonal flu killed about .1% of those infected nationally. On April 13, the WHO said that COVID-19 is 10 times deadlier as the 2009 flu pandemic, commonly called the swine flu.
Mexico reports the highest mortality rate globally at over 10%. This is nearly double that of Iran’s 5.7% which is the second highest.
“Ultimately, the development and delivery of a safe and effective vaccine will be needed to fully interrupt transmission,” the WHO Director General said in a briefing.
On Wednesday, March 11, the organization officially declared the novel virus a pandemic as over 100,000 people had been infected in over 100 countries around the globe.
According to a report out of China, 16% of cases of the viral infection become serious. Older people and those with pre-existing conditions are especially at risk. In China, over 70% of the around 80,000 confirmed cases have recovered.
There are three specific symptoms of the novel coronavirus. They are fever, cough and shortness of breath. These symptoms are thought to appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure.
It is believed that the virus can spread before the onset of symptoms. One case was reported in Germany where scientists say transmission may have occurred during the incubation period.
According to the WHO Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, smoking can increase your risk of developing severe symptoms if you become infected with COVID-19. He also warned young people in a speech, saying “you are not invincible. This virus could put you in hospital for weeks, or even kill you.”
In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, all flags are flying at half staff to honor those who died in the pandemic. Governor Phil Murphy is now calling on retired health care professionals to volunteer their vaccination skills in order to help vaccine rollout.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of the novel virus nationwide that have been reported by Johns Hopkins. This may differ from CDC reports since the numbers are only updated once a day and close out after business hours.
The CDC is now uploading weekly situation reports. View the latest one by clicking here.
Currently, the CDC states that the COVID-19 situation poses a serious public health risk.
On March 8, the agency recommended that people at higher risk of serious illness, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
The CDC recommends everyone help prevent the spread of diseases like the novel coronavirus by taking every-day precautions such as washing hands often, cleaning frequently touched objects, and staying home if you are sick.
The CDC released new guidelines for employers, commercial establishments, school officials and the general public on what they can do to prevent the spread of the virus. View them here.