What is the Coronavirus? by Jada Coley

Coronavirus are a series of viruses that mostly infect mammals. One example of a coronavirus disease is SARS. SARS is an infectious disease with symptoms including fever and cough, and in some cases, it can progress to pneumonia and respiratory failure. Another example of a coronavirus disease is MERS. MERS is a serious viral respiratory illness that is marked by fever, cough, and shortness of breath and that may often progress to severe pneumonia with acute respiratory distress syndrome and even organ failure. An additional example of coronavirus disease is Covid-19. Covid-19 is a mild to severe respiratory illness that is caused by a coronavirus which is transmitted mainly by contact with infectious material (such as respiratory droplets) or with objects or surfaces contaminated by the virus. It is characterized especially by fever, cough, and shortness of breath that may progress to pneumonia or respiratory failure.


SARS stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome. The coronavirus that causes SARS is SARS-CoV. According to the CDC, “SARS was first reported in Asia in February 2003. The illness spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia over the next few months” before it was contained in 2003. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “a total of 8,098 people worldwide became sick with SARS during the 2003 outbreak. Of these, 774 died. In the United States, only eight people had laboratory evidence of SARS spreading.” Travel was the main cause of the spreading of SARS.

MERS stands for middle east respiratory syndrome. The coronavirus that causes MERS is MERS-CoV. According to the CDC, “Health officials first reported the disease in Saudi Arabia in September 2012. Through retrospective (backward-looking) investigators, they later identified that the first known cases of MERS occurred in Jordan in April 2012.” All the cases associated with MERS were due to traveling. CDC supports this by stating, “The largest known outbreak of MERS outside the Arabian Peninsula occurred in the Republic of Korea in 2015. The outbreak was associated with a traveler returning from the Arabian Peninsula”. 


Covid-19 stands for coronavirus disease 2019. Covid-19 is caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Covid-19 is a new disease, caused by a coronavirus that had not yet been seen in humans. According to the CDC, “The name of this disease was selected following the World Health Organization (WHO) best practices external icon for naming new human infectious diseases.” Maryland has 27,117 confirmed cases as of May 6, 2020. The Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, is mitigating the spread of covid-19 by social distancing everyone to their homes. He has also shut down all non-essential businesses. According to dcist.com, “Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday, March 30 took the unprecedented step of ordering millions of residents to shelter in place, imposing stricter controls on people’s movements as a means to further curb the spread of coronavirus. The stay-at-home order… prohibits residents from making trips considered non-essential; Marylanders can still leave their homes for food and medical care. Under the Order, those who violate the stay at home mandate could be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail in prison or up to a $5,000 fine or both.” “We are no longer asking or suggesting Marylanders to stay at home, we are directing them,” Hogan said.

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