Connecticut and the other states in the Northeast did a great job flattening the coronavirus curve and beating back the worst pandemic in 100 years. And, little by little, life feels like it’s getting back to normal – at least in this part of the country.
But, it’s not over.
This virus is relentless and like all destructive forces of nature, it doesn’t acknowledge borders, politics or resources. It strikes where there is vulnerability and moves on to the next unwary victim. A second wave is coming.
Still, we’ve learned a lot about this virulent opponent since the first time it struck.
This coronavirus, or SARS-Cov-2, has an incredibly low infectious dose – that is, it does not take many virus particles to infect a person. The amount of virus particles an infected person transmits (the viral load) is at its highest when a person is initially infected, many times before symptoms even arise. The coronavirus only needs to hitch a ride on the smallest of droplets, an aerosol, fly through the air, get inhaled, avoid all the obstacles as it sails though the lungs and lands on its terminus, an alveolar air sac, where the body’s immune system is suppressed. It might be a one-in-a-thousand shot it happens, but if an infected individual happens to be spewing hundreds of thousands of virus-laden aerosols by coughing, sneezing, singing, talking or even breathing, the odds of infection suddenly rise.
South Korea, which mounted an aggressive response to the pandemic, thought they had the virus beat. One person one night was having a great time, hopping from club to club, and wound up infecting 187 people. He didn’t even know he was sick.
So, it’s not over, and it won’t be over until there’s a vaccine that knocks out this coronavirus for good.
If the second wave hits, and it probably will, there is one simple thing that can be done to minimize its impact.
On February 2, a Hong Kong woman was hospitalized with pneumonia-like symptoms. She was admitted to a general ward with 10 other patients and was attended by medical staff. Two days later, she tested positive for the coronavirus. Of the 120 people directly exposed to the woman, not one came down with the coronavirus. It seems the 49 other patients and 71 health care workers were all wearing some kind of a mask.
Wear a mask. It’s such an easy thing to do, and if everyone does it, the second wave might just become a ripple.