It is unfortunate how the COVID-19 virus is spreading around the world. Since I have many global connections I have been closely following it since early January.
Unfortunately, the spread of this virus is helping us better understand the meaning of viral.
Since the beginnings in Wuhan I have been think of my Chinese colleagues. As the virus spread I thought about how quickly it could spread around the world, and was not surprised when President Trump implemented travel restrictions.
In our very mobile and global society it is not easy to wall off sections of the world to a virus.
Unfortunately these areas had not restricted travel from China and the virus continued to spread. Also with the open borders in Europe the virus continued to spread through the continent.
I have many colleagues in these countries that I have trained over the years, so they have also been in my thoughts.
Now President Trump has acted again and is restricting travel from Europe for the next month. This should help slow down the spread of the virus to the United States and give more time for development of a vaccine and new treatment methods. There are of course many cases in the US, but the most severe cases will hopefully be isolated soon as social distancing measures start to take effect.
Many large gatherings of people have been cancelled. Most visible in this are cancellations of sporting events and also games that will be played in empty stadiums or arenas. It will be interesting to watch a game on TV without hearing the crowds cheer on the players.
A couple of days ago I finished reading The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry. In 1918 at the time of the pandemic we were near the end of WWI. Of course since that time great advances have been made in medicine, especially in the understanding of viruses and how they replicate and spread.
We have learned a lot from history, and I can already see big differences in how the pandemic is being handled today. However, there is the big challenge of having a much more mobile society. A virus can move much faster around the world than it did back then. But, our response can also be much quicker with the technology we have today.
One thing to remember is that there are many different strains of the virus that vary in the severity of the symptoms. Also the young and healthy may have very mild symptoms and not realize they have the virus. It is important to be vigilant about personal hygiene to make sure you do not help spread the virus.
Most important, you should make sure you practice social distancing if you suspect that you have either COVID-19 or the flu. Both of these viruses can be very dangerous, especially for older people and those with underlying health problems.
Please be safe.