MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Experts say there are now more than 1,100 cases of coronavirus in the United States. At least 30 patients have died.

But many still downplay the significance of the outbreak, comparing it to previous health scares.

Don’t believe people who say coronavirus is “not a big deal,” or “it’s a hoax,” or “other epidemics were worse.”

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, previous epidemics killed more people — so far — but they were largely contained to smaller areas.

The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, appears to be more contagious and more deadly.

Fewer people contracted SARS and MERS, but those illnesses killed a high percentage of patients who got it.

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The seasonal flu last year killed 32,000 people, with 95 victims in Minnesota.

MERS had a death rate of 34.5%.

SARS had a 9.6% death rate.

The COVID-19 death rate is thought to be 3.4%.

The flu is 0.1%

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COVID-19 is not contained to one area. It is jumping borders and spreading across the globe. It will infect many more people. It is easier to transmit. There is no vaccine, and there is no cure.

Sneezing, touching, or just breathing near someone else can spread it. There are no early symptoms, so people carry it for days without knowing.

Most people who get the virus show mild symptoms and have recovered, but older people are at risk. In China, the death rate for patients 80 and older is 22%. In Italy, It’s 42%.

And comparisons of COVID-19 to the last global pandemic, the 1918 flu, are not valid. In that outbreak, 675,000 Americans died from the flu. Doctors misdiagnosed the cause. And there were no antibiotics or anti-viral drugs.

So, COVID-19 has not yet claimed as many deaths as previous epidemics. But it’s a new virus that humans don’t have immunity to it, and there won’t be a vaccine for at least a year.

Medical experts are giving these precautions:

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid touching your face.

Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/03/study-highlights-ease-spread-covid-19-viruses

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2003762

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/02/study-72000-covid-19-patients-finds-23-death-rate

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-08/coronavirus-nears-fatal-tipping-point-when-lungs-are-inflamed

https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-compared-to-sars-swine-flu-mers-zika-2020-3

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/italy/

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-age-sex-demographics/

https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-updates.html

http://news.mit.edu/2016/sneezing-fluid-cascade-not-simple-spray-0210

https://www.cdc.gov/about/history/sars/timeline.htm

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/02/study-72000-covid-19-patients-finds-23-death-rate

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-1918-flu-pandemic-a-cautionary-tale/

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-08/coronavirus-nears-fatal-tipping-point-when-lungs-are-inflamed

https://www.vox.com/2020/3/9/21164957/covid-19-spanish-flu-mortality-rate-death-rate

https://www.livescience.com/new-coronavirus-compare-with-flu.html

Pat Kessler

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