Many Americans probably hadn’t even heard of “Wuhan” before a strange new virus crept into the headlines at the end of December. Now, the virus that sparked a full-blown crisis in the central Chinese city has reached its tentacles across the globe.

Many Americans probably hadn’t even heard of “Wuhan” before a strange new virus crept into the headlines at the end of December. Now, the virus that sparked a full-blown crisis in the central Chinese city has reached its tentacles across the globe.

Many Americans probably hadn’t even heard of “Wuhan” before a strange new virus crept into the headlines at the end of December.
The city may be home to 11 million, but it’s not a household name like Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong.
Now, the virus that sparked a full-blown crisis in the central Chinese city has reached its tentacles across the globe.
It’s infected top Iranian officials, forced Italy into an unprecedented lockdown and is about to test America’s health system and institutions, as cases spread to over 30 states and upend Wall Street.Here’s a snapshot:
WHAT IT IS:• The novel coronavirus is part of a family of coronaviruses — think SARS from nearly two decades ago — but it hadn’t popped onto anyone’s radar screen until the end of last year, thus its “novel” moniker.
Nobody’s sure where it came from, though scientists believe it hopped from animals to humans, potentially through a live-animal market in Wuhan.The virus causes an illness, dubbed COVID-19, that can lead to a dry cough, fever, respiratory distress and organ failure.
CORONAVIRUS IN AMERICA:• The first documented U.S. case arrived in a traveler from China to Snohomish County, Washington state.
Now, the U.S. has recorded over 700 infections and nearly 30 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s popular tracker.
Some cases are in travelers from hard-hit places like Italy or South Korea, and dozens are from people who flew back from Wuhan or a cruise ship in Japan on State Department flights. Yet there is a mounting number of those who don’t know how they got it, raising fears of “community spread” from person to person.
REST OF WORLD:• More than 116,000 people have been infected worldwide. Over 4,000 people have died.
China, by far, has seen the most cases, at 80,000, though it’s important to remember that tens of thousands have recovered.
The outbreak has shifted from a problem in China to a major crisis in Italy, which has seen more than 9,000 cases, Iran, with over 8,000, and more than 7,500 in South Korea.
Every continent except for Antarctica has seen cases, prompting the World Health Organization to say the crisis is nearing “pandemic” levels.
WHO GETS SICK AND DIES:• Older people and those with underlying conditions like diabetes and heart or lung diseases are at the highest risk of death from the coronavirus. Reports suggest few people under age 19 get sick, and that healthier young or middle-age people might get ill but can fend it off at home.
Things get serious around age 60, with the risk increasing with age and getting quite grave around age 80, accordion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
TIME FROM EXPOSURE TO GETTING SICK:• The incubation period, or time between exposure and exhibiting symptoms, for the new coronavirus is 14 days.
That’s why folks returning from virus-stricken cruise ships and hard-hit countries are being asked to quarantine for two weeks. Some are being placed in mandatory quarantine on military bases, while others — including congressional Republicans who snapped photos with an infected person at a February conference — are isolating themselves at home.
PURSUING A CURE:• There’s no vaccine or direct treatment for COVID-19, though the government and drugmakers are working on it.
A therapy may come first, with drugmakers telling the White House they may start human trials by spring.
Companies are also figuring out if an existing drug — remdesivir — is effective against the coronavirus.
A vaccine will take longer, with National Institutes of Health expert Anthony Fauci saying it will take a year to a year and a half to get it in hand.
WHAT TO DO:• Health experts say the best way to avoid exposure is to wash your hands with soap and water and avoid touching your face, so germs don’t find a way into your system. Some people like to use hand sanitizer, but it’s becoming hard to find.
Out in public, it’s best to cough or sneeze into your inner elbow and avoid handshakes. Also, a degree of “social distancing,” such as avoiding large crowds at concerts or elsewhere, is a good idea.
Austin, Texas, canceled its famous South by Southwest festival after tech companies pulled out, while Pearl Jam, the grunge band from hard-hit Seattle area, said it’s postponing the first leg of its upcoming tour.
D.C. think tanks are canceling conferences, and sporting events around the globe are being scrapped or moving behind closed doors.
The State Department told Americans to avoid cruise ships during the scare, and officials have urged older Americans to stay closer to home.
WHO IS GETTING TESTED:• The Trump administration says it is overcoming early stutter steps in testing patients. Early on, few people were tested amid reports they needed a link to China or an infected person.
Vice President Mike Pence last week said anyone in America can now be tested upon a doctor’s orders.
Yet testing kits sent to local government were faulty, prompting a federal scramble to send out new kits. The administration also tapped the private-sector to ramp up production and says 78 state and local public health labs across 50 states are able to test.
THIS IS UPSETTING … CAN I STILL WATCH SPORTS?• Pretty much, but that may change.
The NBA is discussing contingency plans, such as playing games without fans, while the NCAA has put together a coronavirus advisory panel to brainstorm ways to mitigate transmission during the popular tournament. It hasn’t scrapped games yet or barred fans.
It’s different overseas, where Italy suspended sporting events, including soccer matches, until at least April 3 as cases blanket the country.Spain’s top-flight soccer, league, La Liga, is going to start playing games behind closed doors. So will Ligue 1, the top division in France. Select games in a European club tournament, the Champions League, will be played behind closed doors in March.
Formula One auto racing said its Grand Prix in Bahrain will be closed to spectators, and it’s postponed the Chinese Grand Prix slated for April.
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS:• President Trump on Jan. 31 barred foreign nationals who’d been in China within the last 14 days from entering the U.S. He said the early action likely prevented a lot more cases.
The administration later extended the same ban to Iran.
Earlier this month, the government required air passengers from South Korea and Italy to be screened for signs of coronavirus before and after their flights to the U.S.
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