Novel coronavirus: Why such big deal over such a little Covid-19 virus?

As a stay at home mom who also happens to be a public health nurse with a Ph.D. I have been following the course of the coronavirus closely.

So it was sad to see when the U.S. finally realized the seriousness of the outbreak there were people who were still going out to parties and ignoring the importance of social distancing such as the now infamous college student on spring break:

There are people asking, what is the big deal if the virus affects mostly the elderly (over 65) or those with chronic conditions (diabetes, heart disease, etc)?

In the greater scheme of things, there's a lot of fear over the virus. Compared to other pandemics in history, it's not ranked at the top for the number of deaths, see helpful infographics here that are constantly updated. 

Unfortunately, we live in an age of social media where people are seeing the numbers and hearing/watching the news in real-time. It's kind of like hearing about a case of a puppy being tortured and killed after the fact versus watching it die before your eyes thinking you could have done something to prevent it.   

What we tend to worry about in the health care system is overburdening the capacity of the system. (From studying this in my Ph.D. process, there's usually a major health care worker shortage most everywhere in the world.) 
So a person who would normally be able to recover from an illness with the care and equipment provided in a hospital might not be able to have access to that and would instead go meet their creator. 
This is what happened in Wuhan, China and why they deployed so many health care professionals and built hospitals to increase capacity:

Also, the virus seems to be very successful in transmitting between humans and wrecking damage in the lungs that don't seem to be controllable with antibiotics:

I like how this Johns Hopkins virologist describes them:
They break into your home, eat your food and use your furniture and have 10,000 babies. “And then they leave the place trashed,”

Having an overcapacity for health care systems is not a good place to be even with the low percentage of risk of death for those who are young and healthy, in the case, you get something other than the virus and need the hospital, you might not get access.
Which is why you have no doubt seen the "flatten the curve" graph, first proposed by the American CDC for the 2007 flu- page 3 here

I like the explanation of the spread of the disease from the visual capitalists that shows that the Covid-19 has a large R0, or spread factor than the flu (for covid-19, 1 person can spread it to 2.5 people and for the flu, 1 person spreads to 1.5 people) and a current higher mortality percentage (2-3% for covid-19 versus 0.5% for the flu). While thousands of people die every flu season, this could be a lot worse since we do not have vaccines or medications yet.


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