There’s a new name for the respiratory illness caused by coronavirus: COVID-19.
The latest numbers from the World Health Organization show that over 80 thousand cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide.
Since Monday, nine new countries have reported cases of the virus, bringing the total number of countries with cases up to thirty seven.
And yesterday, a top official at the Centers for Disease and Control announced it’s only a matter of time until COVID-19 becomes an epidemic in the United States.
“Current global circumstances suggest it’s likely this virus will cause a pandemic,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director at the CDC, says.
“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen, how many people in this country will become infected, and how many of those will develop [a] severe or more complicated disease.”
So far one Dane County resident has tested positive. That person was treated by UW Hospital doctors and has been in isolation at home since January 30th.
Earlier this month, Governor Evers said in a statement that the risk to the general public remains low and that Wisconsin health officials are poised to respond to any outbreak.
Nasia Safdar is medical director for infection prevention at UW Health. She says there’s no widespread community transmission at this time, but if more cases broke out, health systems would put more of their resources toward treating coronavirus patients.
“If we were to be in a scenario where we had hundreds of patients, for instance, and they were overwhelming the healthcare system, then what most places typically do is they would redeploy their healthcare force to care for these patients and then not do some other elective, non-urgent things,” Safdar says.
The New York Times reports that the CDC has already spent the over $100 million that the feds allotted to combat the coronavirus.
President Trump’s Administration has requested $1.25 billion for the coronavirus, while Democratic leadership in the Senate is asking for $8.5 billion for emergency funds.
Fears about the virus also have an effect on global trade.
Mark Stephenson is a Dairy Market expert at the University of Wisconsin. He says that because China is the largest importer of dairy products in the world, a disruption in their market could affect farmers here at home.
“We’ve got markets right now that are much concerned about the possibility of what a full-blown coronavirus pandemic could be than the fact that we actually have that yet,” Stephenson says.
That’s a blow to dairy farmers in Wisconsin, who are already suffering from depressed milk prices and a crowded market.
In the meantime, the flu, which has similar symptoms as the COVID-19, has hospitalized over 2300 Wisconsinites during this seasonal flu season.
So, wash your hands, get your flu shot, and if you feel sick and can stay home, do so.