A viral illness spreads across Washington state, causing respiratory illness. Most cases are mild, but some are severe and even fatal. At the same time it causes many fewer illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths than the seasonal flu. So why are we obsessed with this COVID-19? Why is it that pharmacies have run out of surgical masks and hand sanitizer, and people no longer feel shy about wearing a mask in public? Why are conferences and classes getting canceled and governors declaring states of emergency when we don’t do that with seasonal flu?
We're all in this Together: Coronavirus Lessons from Hong Kong (Seattle Times Op-Ed by Karin Huster, MPH '13)
HONG KONG — It’s been hard to be far away from home, watching a pandemic of panic over the new coronavirus ripple across the world.
A month ago I left Seattle for Hong Kong — a city of 7.3 million bordering mainland China and one of the planet’s most densely populated — as part of a Doctors Without Borders effort to rein in the widespread fear gripping the city as it began to wrestle with a virus the world knew little about.
That fear has now reached home.
The first U.S. case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was diagnosed here in Washington State – bringing home, quite literally, the fact that pathogens know no borders, and highlighting the importance of local public health expertise and coordinated response.