Unless you live under a rock (you wouldn't be reading this if you did), you and the entire world knows of the newest pandemic sweeping the Earth, COVID-19. As of writing this, Italy’s death toll exceeds 3,400 with 41,000+ cases. The number of infections in Germany is over 11,000, and Spain has reported more than 17,000 cases (The New York Times). The US has banned international travel, and Governor Sisolak of Nevada has decided to close non-essential businesses. So what’s next?
What we know
According to CBS News, early patients of the coronavirus were associated with Hua Nan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China; home to over 11 million people. Initially, the virus was believed to be transmitted from animals to humans. That’s not the case anymore, as the virus is spreading widely from person-to-person in the form of droplets from coughing or sneezing (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]). Luckily, there’s no evidence of the virus spreading through food, but according to the CDC, it may be possible the virus can live on surfaces and can infect people through touching said surface and then coming in contact with the eyes, mouth, or nose.
On a brighter note, the CDC stated that they have not received any reports of pets becoming sick due to the virus, and there is no reason to believe they can spread COVID-19 either.
Those at most risk for the virus are those with underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, obesity, and those under treatment or have been treated with chemotherapy.
Even if those of us without previously compromised immune systems aren’t in any immediate personal danger, there is nothing safe about contracting CVOID-19.
“Even if they aren’t susceptible to it, they could be spreading the virus to others who are,” said senior, Makayla Leville.
Symptoms of the virus may appear 2-14 days after exposure. They include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Some emergency warning signs include shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, and bluish lips/face. Get this: if you’re not showing symptoms, there’s no reason for you to use a facemask! Only those who are showing symptoms truly need them, and this is purely for the protection of others.
For the first time since the outbreak, there have been zero new cases in Wuhan, China and in the Hubei province. It is also mentionable that out of 145,000+ active cases worldwide, 95 percent are in mild condition. Out of the almost 100,000 closed cases, 90 percent of those people are recovered or were discharged (worldometers.info).
As always, the conspiracy theorists are tearing apart this piece of history unraveling before us. One theory proposes that the coronavirus is actually a bio-weapon created by the CIA as a way to wage war against China, and another suggests that governments were introduced to the virus as a way to make money from a potential vaccine. China even accused the US Army of bringing the coronavirus to Wuhan.
Junior Christina Rodriguez believes the media is taking away important information that people are missing out on.
“Although I do enjoy conspiracy theories, I think in this case it really takes away our attention from the bigger picture and the issue at hand,” said Rodriguez. “We really should be spending more of our time and efforts as a nation to come up with solutions to problems being generated by the quarantine and virus.”
Leville stated that she had heard about this being a repeated thing as history does tend to repeat itself.
“I try not to think about the fact that it could be a population control method, but I have heard talk that it is history repeating itself at the same time every century, like in 1720 with the Black Death or 1820 with the Cholera outbreak, 1920 with the Spanish Flu and so forth,” said Leville.
Although conspiracies are just people's opinions majority of the time, the facts tend to outweigh them.
The Atlantic recently posted an article around President Trump’s coronavirus propaganda. The Atlantic stated “Trump’s efforts to play down the pandemic have been amplified by the same multi-platform propaganda he’s relying on for reelection… the purpose of this sort of propaganda is not to inspire conviction in a certain set of facts; it’s to bombard people with so many contradictory claims… that they simply throw up their hands in confusion and exhaustion.”
This propaganda, of course, is to land him back in office later this year. By muddying the waters, voters may deem Trump fit for a second term because of this ‘alternate reality’ he has created where the virus isn’t as bad as it seems.
Freshman Oliva Hanninen and junior Triniti Gordon both agree that the media is causing hysteria.
“I think the people aren't educated enough about this virus and are just going off of what the media says, and we all know that the media loves to cause chaos,” said Gordon.
“The media is just trying to get watchers and spectators,” said Hanninen.
Is it coming our way?
As of March 19, the state of Nevada has reported 95 COVID-19 cases with 74 of them being in Clark county with only one death (Fox5 Vegas). 18 cases have landed in Washoe county, one in Douglas county, one in Carson City, and one in Elko county.
Sophomore Julian Aguirre believes there is a chance that there could be someone here who has it or if not, it is bound to happen.
“There’s a slight chance it will make it here because of the traveling...nobody is traveling under self quarantine,” said Aguirre.
Triniti Gordon has become aware of the situation and how every person is dealing with the lock down.
“It's kind of inevitable,” said Gordon. “A case was confirmed in Elko and there's many people who don't care and are partying or ignoring this virus.”
Many panicked residents are stocking up on quarantine supplies, emptying the shelves at every store in town. Even toilet paper has become a scarce and valuable commodity.
“There are people that I know that can only shop once a month and they're unable to get the necessities that they need,” said senior, Frankie Baumeister.
All nonessential businesses across the state of Nevada have also been closed, causing additional economic panic on top of the free falling stock market.
“Individuals still need jobs and many companies cannot afford to have employees on paid leave,” said Gordon. “People have no means of income and some are still required to pay rent by the 1st of every month.”
Now, considering our state is now shut down, before the virus has spread to Humboldt county, we may have a chance. But that being said, a lot of people are still traveling, and Winnemucca is a gateway city. We’re four hours from Boise and Sacramento, five from Salt Lake City, and seven from Las Vegas. Not to mention, big enough for fast food right off of the interstates. Winnemucca is the perfect halfway-point between many places, and even though the local businesses and casinos have been shut down, fast food and grocery stores are still in full operation, allowing us to have more contact with one another, and potentially exposing us to COVID-19.
Schools statewide have been cancelled until April 6 minimum, and UNR as well as UNLV and universities around the country have transferred to online. Though this extra spring break is nice, it’s detrimental to the AP students like Leville, Gordon, Schoenecker, and Baumeister who are preparing for exams in early May and are now two weeks of instruction time behind.
Schools in Humboldt County are attempting to continue student education in the interim through online databases and homework packets that can be picked up from the front offices of students’ respective schools.
Local effects: spring sports
As many have already heard, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) has decided to postpone spring sports due to the coronavirus outbreak. Though high school level sports are most affected, this does include travel ball and entry level sports. Some players have gone as far as to quit their sport of choice, most are disappointed, but many have kept hope that things will blow over quite soon and the season will continue.
On March 11, the NIAA sent out a statement addressing COVID-19, announcing the suspension of sports for all of its member schools effective March 16. This is for the “protection of students and the general public.”
Though the suspension is in the public’s best interest, many senior players are upset about the last season of their high school career.
Varsity softball player Kelcey Cooper stated “I’ve been super bummed but also very hopeful. I feel this will all blow over and we can continue our season. We are definitely losing some opportunities since we can’t practice but hopefully, we can keep going with the season and pick up right where we left off.”
As far as college recruitment goes, Sierra Maestrejuan (varsity softball player) is concerned that her and her peers will need to find other ways of getting in contact with college-level coaches.
“I think that many opportunities for players will not be given due to our seasons being suspended and some canceled,” said Maestrejuan. “The athletes looking to play in college are going to have to train on their own and find other ways to have contact with coaches.”
Though the senior players are being hit the hardest, the lower classmen are also feeling disheartened.
JV baseball player Eric Bergenheier was looking forward to watching his brother, Brooks Bergenheier, play with the varsity team this season.
“I'm disappointed because it's my brother’s senior year and he is on a really good team,” said Bergenheier. “They may not be able to show what they have because of the suspension.”
Lesley Martinez (track) and her team were hoping to qualify for regionals as well as state this year.
“The team was mostly disappointed because we had all worked so hard and we were looking forward to future meets,” said Martinez. “We were most disappointed about not being able to compete and do better in order to qualify for regionals and state, and I’m mostly disappointed because I was really looking forward to the meets and improving my records.”
Players understand that the suspension may be a good preventative measure to keep the virus from spreading, but everyone has a different take on the situation.
Varsity baseball player Justin Horton thinks the ban is justified, stating that “even larger leagues like the NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS have also canceled games. It just happens that our administration thought this was the right decision as well.”
Horton also mentioned the accountability at hand if the NIAA has not postponed spring sports.
“It could be good for the district because it means they won't be responsible if someone catches COVID-19 and it could be good for us because it means we might not get it. It just is disappointing that this happened,” said Horton.
Swimmer Zoey Thies, on the other hand, believes that there wasn’t a very good reason to cancel the swim season.
“I feel like it was a bit of an overreaction at least with swimming,” said Thies. “We’re swimming in chlorine which will kill a cold pretty easily. It would be a little different I think if there were more than just two cases of the virus in Nevada. It would make the reaction, I think, more justifiable.”
In the meantime, players will be practicing on their own time and keeping up strength in hopes that the season will resume shortly.
All in all…
The best thing you can do to protect yourself from the coronavirus is to wash your hands, don’t come into close contact with anyone, and don’t buy out the stores. This is a very scary time for many, and fear is absolutely acceptable but what is not acceptable is buying seven gallons of milk for a family of two. Trying to keep calm is the second best thing to do. Chances are you won't die, and neither will those you love as long as you're practicing social distancing. As of now, there are no confirmed cases in Humboldt county. Practice good hygiene (as you already should've been doing) and try to keep your distance, help keep yourself and everyone around you safe.