*For the purposes of simplicity and readability, every mention of “Coronavirus” within this article—unless otherwise specified—is referring to COVID-19.
On December 31, 2019, people around the country gathered with friends and loved ones to beckon a new year. In the spirit of the season, many of them likely spent time wondering what the year ahead would bring. Plans were made. Resolutions set.
Unbeknownst to these individuals, Chinese health officials had just reported a mysterious illness that would alter the trajectory of every individual, community, company, and government on the planet for the foreseeable future.
The Beginning Of A Pandemic
On that day, December 31, Chinese health officials contacted the World Health Organization to report a streak of mysterious pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. The patients in question initially reported difficulty breathing, but their health was deteriorating quickly.
One week later, Chinese authorities announced the discovery of the culprit behind this string of pneumonia cases. COVID-19, still colloquially referred to as Coronavirus, had made its way into the population of Wuhan, and it was spreading quickly.
Now, just under three months later, the entire world is preparing itself for the worst global health pandemic in over a century. Several countries are implementing strict isolation policies while professional sports, live shows, and all non-essential public gatherings are on hold.
In the midst of an ongoing situation such as this, it can be understandably difficult to get yourself oriented. Coronavirus has started a worldwide media frenzy, and the abundance of information (or misinformation) can be difficult to sift through.
For this reason, getting answers to the questions most pertinent to you and your loved ones is a tall order.
We’ve compiled questions relevant to the continuing Coronavirus pandemic and done our best to give you the answers you need.
Where Did COVID-19 Start?
As of this writing, the precise origin of Coronavirus is unknown. We know human cases began in Wuhan, China, and several of the initial cases were linked to a single wet market in that area.
Wet markets are known for the sale of multiple species of wild animals, both dead and alive. For this reason, they can often act as hotbeds for the mutation and transmission of various viruses.
Despite knowing the geographical location at which the human Coronavirus pandemic began, its true origins remain unclear. Researchers confirmed the virus is of natural origin (no, it was not genetically engineered), but the specific source eludes identification.
This means the virus mutated and transmitted to humans via biological hosts, but the host species is currently unknown. (If you want to know which animals to scream at next time you go to the zoo, the current hypotheses revolve around bats and pangolins.)
Who Does COVID-19 Affect?
This issue has sparked a great deal of controversy since the beginning of the pandemic.
You’ve likely heard that Coronavirus predominantly affects older individuals, but this is only an approximation of reality.
Yes, a majority of Coronavirus deaths occur within patients ages 50+. However, a recent study showed that 20 percent of individuals ages 20-44 with Coronavirus required hospitalization. Among them, 2-4 percent required treatment in the ICU.
So, although it’s true that the older population is more at risk from Coronavirus, don’t get complacent. If you’re old enough to catch a PG-13 movie, then somebody your age has died from this disease.
Is There A Cure Or Vaccine?
As of this writing, there is no known cure or vaccine for this strain of Coronavirus. However, health officials worldwide are racing to find a cure, and some have found moderate success in existing medications.
Unfortunately, the process of developing a safe, effective vaccine typically takes years. In the scenario we currently face, the prospect of a vaccine presents two issues.
First, if researchers were to follow proper procedure in developing the vaccine, it would likely come far too late. Rigorous procedural demands are in place for vaccine development, and we’re already months into a global pandemic that necessitates prompt action.
Second, a vaccine that receives rushed approval and distribution has the potential to put people at risk.
The conventions for vaccine research and approval are put into place for a reason. Researchers are required to ensure that vaccines are virtually risk-free before distributing them to the public. If a vaccine came about in time to help fight this pandemic, it will likely have been rushed.
In a scenario like this, typical trial periods for vaccine development will have been ignored. As a result, there is a risk that such a vaccine may have negative effects in the long term.
While the prompt discovery of a vaccine or medication would be a welcome development, it is a somewhat unlikely one.
How Seriously Should We Take The Calls For Social Distancing?
One more time, for those in the back.
You should take calls for social distancing very seriously.
A key reason for this is that people carrying Coronavirus are contagious up to 14 days before experiencing symptoms. In other words, you can spread this virus without even realizing that you have it. And with Coronavirus testing abilities in the US remaining woefully inadequate, it is critical to play it safe.
The main idea between social distancing is the concept of “flattening the curve.” The idea is that, with no social distancing, the disease would spread rampantly and quickly overwhelm medical facilities.
In this worst-case scenario, over 75 percent of the country could contract Coronavirus by July 1, and deaths could reach nearly 2 million.
However, with stringent social distancing measures in place, the spread of the disease could be delayed significantly. In this scenario, the death toll could fall to around 200,000.
Of course, these projections will begin to shift as states across the country begin to implement stay-at-home orders. As a country, the US is just at the beginning of what will likely be a months-long struggle.
For now, though, you’d do well to listen to local, state, and federal authorities. If they are telling you to stay home, then stay home.
What Can I Do To Keep Myself Protected?
In the situation that is currently folding, it is incredibly easy to begin feeling helpless. However, there are measures that you can personally take to keep yourself (and your community) safe.
First, wash your damn hands. Wash them well, wash them passionately, wash them often. This should have been a habit long before this global pandemic, but there’s no time like the present.
Second, do not leave your home unless it is necessary. If you do leave your home, maintain a responsible distance (around six feet) from others whenever possible.
Third, cover your mouth with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when you cough. Again, you shouldn’t be learning or implementing this just now. Either way, try to make it a habit now.
These precautions may seem fairly basic, but they will serve as your first line of defense against Coronavirus.
How Do I Get Tested For COVID-19?
This may seem a tad morbid, but it is the current reality in the US.
Testing capabilities in this country are severely lacking at the time being. As a result, the average US citizen will be unable to get a test unless they are exhibiting Coronavirus symptoms. Even then, there are reports of ill individuals who are still unable to get tests.
Despite this shortage of tests, the list of celebrities and professional athletes confirmed to have Coronavirus continues to grow.
Many of them claim that they were already exhibiting symptoms when they received their tests. However, it’s hard to ignore the seeming disparity between the “haves” and “have nots” when it comes to test availability.
As a result, the unfortunate reality for the average US citizen is they won’t get tested unless they’re already sick.
What Factors Could Put Me At Risk For Medical Complications Resulting From COVID-19?
Realistically, Coronavirus has the potential to cause medical complications regardless of your current health status.
However, there are certain pre-existing conditions that can leave you more at risk than others.
These pre-existing conditions include lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, and immune system deficiencies, and old age.
Again, everybody should be taking heightened precautions during this pandemic. However, people with these conditions (as well as their loved ones) need to be incredibly cautious.
How Do I Know If I Have COVID-19?
There is a litany of symptoms stemming from Coronavirus, but three, in particular, are the most common.
These three symptoms are a fever, dry cough, and difficulty breathing.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, authorities are requesting that you call your healthcare provider rather than going directly to a hospital.
This precaution reduces the likelihood that you transmit the disease to others and helps healthcare providers assist you properly.
How Is COVID-19 Affecting The Cannabis Industry?
Like a majority of US industries, the cannabis industry can expect to take a significant hit as Coronavirus gains traction. The impact of Coronavirus on the cannabis industry is diverse, but it can be broken down into some key points.
A Broken Supply Chain
Although the cannabis industry may seem to primarily involve the growth and processing of cannabis, more factors are in play.
Specifically, the US cannabis industry depends upon Chinese companies for a variety of products. These products include vaping batteries and LED grow lights, as well as parts for ventilation, heating, and air conditioning systems. As Chinese factories continue to shut down, the cannabis industry is likely to suffer as a result, but how bad things get remains to be seen.
Canceled Trade Shows
Trade shows are a prime opportunity for different companies to network, form partnerships, and showcase new products. Many cannabis companies depend on such gatherings to get their name out there and several holding companies use them to assess new players in an everchanging industry.
With public gatherings out of the picture for the foreseeable future, trade shows (and their benefits to the industry) will be put on hold indefinitely. While a canceled tradeshow here and there may not bring the industry to its knees, the prospect of a months-long hiatus does not bode well.
A Severe Drop In Tourism
Another issue posed by Coronavirus is a significant drop in the tourist industry. As authorities continue to put the kibosh on discretionary travel, cannabis dispensaries are going to start feeling the pain.
While dispensaries get a great deal of business from locals, there’s no denying that travelers from states without cannabis legalization often have a legal cannabis purchase high on their itinerary. With a reduction of tourists currently taking hold, dispensaries are preparing to take a significant hit in business.
However, a temporary halt in tourism isn’t the only issue facing local dispensaries during the Coronavirus pandemic.
A Disruption In Demand And Accessibility
With more local governments implementing shelter-in-place orders, dispensaries face a significant issue regarding demand for their product. As calls for social distancing and shelter-in-place orders continue to mount, dispensaries will face a stark decrease in foot traffic.
Many are implementing “pick up only” policies, and some are lucky enough to reside in states that allow cannabis delivery. This may be enough to keep some dispensaries afloat. However, as isolation measures continue to grow and citizens continue to lose work, the reality is that dispensaries around the country are going to struggle to some degree in the coming months.