Global pandemic hits home: St. Louis reacts to COVID-19

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Photo illustration by Kathryn McAuliffe

Transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19, formerly known as 2019-nCoV. The spherical viral particles, colorized blue, contain cross-section through the viral genome, seen as black dots.

What has dominated headlines since January has officially hit St. Louis County as the first case of the coronavirus, known officially as COVID-19 is confirmed. After family members of an infected person attended a school function, citizens across St. Louis found themselves at risk. This has reverberated into our community, as schools and businesses shut down. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that there are three main symptoms that can be seen between two and 14 days after exposure––fever, cough, shortness of breath. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness for confirmed COVID-19 cases.

“[Remember to] wash your hands. If you’re feeling sick with the symptoms, call your doctor. Call before you go anywhere for care, and stay home,” school nurse Lois Burch said. 

Countries are taking high measures to prevent and halt the spread of the disease by shutting down schools and canceling some travel. 

“I was going to Saudia Arabia for something called an Umrah, it’s a pilgrimage that you can go to anytime during the year. Saudia Arabia suspended certain countries from coming in because of the virus so we just canceled our whole trip,” junior Dana Abdulnabi said. “I was actually really devastated because this would’ve been my first time going and I was really excited.

In her third semester of college, alumna and current student at Kent State University student Haley Tiepleman was studying abroad in Florence, Italy when she was sent home due to confirmed cases in Milan, Italy.

In Rome, Italy, former West High Student Haley Tiepleman studies abroad, visiting the Colosseum while her friend Hadley Stoub takes her picture. Before her trip ended due to the virus spread, she enjoyed places like the Trevi fountain and looking at the architecture.“I would say that the whole experience in total will kind of taught me a lesson of being able to adapt and being able to go with the flow and understand that the plans that you have in life don’t always go how you want them to,” Tiepelman said. “I mean yeah the virus put a stop to that [my studying abroad] but you can’t erase the fun times that I had.”

“I was supposed to be there until the second week of May. I got there in January. One of my best friends [came home as well], both of our parents decided to call it before the school did,” Tiepleman said.

News of this virus spreads fast, yet there are many misconceptions as to how dangerous it is and how we should approach it ourselves. 

“When my friends and I would talk about it while we were still in Italy, it just seemed like the media was making things seem much scarier than they were. People in Italy were still living life as normal so it made it even more frustrating that we felt like we were being sent back for something that seemed like it was not much different than the flu,” Tiepelman said.

Although there is no vaccine for this virus, there are many ways to avoid getting this virus. 

“Wash your hands often with soap and water, if soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home when you are sick,” the CDC advises. 

Moving forward, steps are being taken by medical officials to stop any further cases and, as for us, we must continue to take care of ourselves to minimize any more sickness being spread. 

“I personally think that it will get better,” Abdulnabi said. “I hope that my family will be able to go on this trip because we have been planning this for so long and you just don’t know if you will ever be able to go.” 

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