COVID-19: THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC - UNITED STATES

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

There are currently two vaccines that have been authorized by the World Health Organization: the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Vaccine distribution and deployment has begun around the world. Many other vaccine candidates are currently being developed and tested.


-WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

Despite the vaccines, it appears that the COVID-19 virus has mutated and created several new variants of the COVID-19 virus, which are beginning to spread across the world. A few currently known variants stem from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil.

-CDC (CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION)

LEARNING RESOURCES

Introduction

COVID-19 Misinformation

A major issue during the COVID-19 pandemic was the rampant misinformation on social media and even mainstream television networks. Inaccurate news about COVID-19 led to either over-exaggerated panic or a dangerous level of apathy towards the pandemic. For others, misinformation led to unsafe pandemic practices. For example, several social media circles have spread untrue information that vaccines cause autism and present stories of people dying or becoming seriously ill after the COVID-19 vaccine. They believe that the vaccine came out too quickly and was not properly tested for safety in the rush to end the pandemic quickly. However, the reality is that the COVID-19 vaccine was thoroughly tested and went through multiple trials. The government made the process more efficient and processed the results more quickly, but the fundamental experimental process did not cut any corners. Many of the stories on social media are simply made up or take a few select cases and not mention important information about their background (for example, one person had pre-existing conditions that made their immune system weak and they failed to disclose a severe allergy before taking the vaccine).
Another misinformation spread widely across the news is that COVID-19 masks do not work and that they damage the lungs by restricting oxygen intake. This is completely untrue, multiple studies have proven that masks help block the transmission of the virus when someone sneezes, coughs, talks, or otherwise interacts with another person. Furthermore, while masks are uncomfortable, they do not cause any damage to your lungs or brain by deficient oxygen levels. A common term used by politicians or other people who believe masks are not necessary is "herd immunity." This term means that if most of the population contracts the virus, they will become immune after they recover and the majority of the population will be immune to the virus. However, many scientists have said that for herd immunity to take place, over two-thirds of the population would need to contract COVID-19. This is extremely dangerous for our elderly and immunocompromised populations, who could die from exposure to the virus. Furthermore, that many cases of COVID-19 could overwhelm our hospitals and take up valuable space from others who need emergency care.
On the other hand, some media information has driven people to unnecessary panic. One prime example is when people rushed to the grocery stories and began fighting over toilet paper, food, water, and sanitary supplies in fear that the grocery stores would run out of stock. People began spreading rumors that all the production factories were shutting down and that common commodities would soon run out, leading people to panic and hoard large amounts of supplies. This information is untrue; the empty shelves shared on social media and the news were due to people hoarding and buying too much. The factories and farms actually had plenty of supply and they were loading up extra trucks for delivery. COVID-19 misinformation is just as serious as the pandemic's health impacts.
It is necessary to recognize when false information is being spread so the public understands safe practices for the pandemic without unnecessary fear or anger.

COVID-19 Economic Impact