If Coronavirus Hits Fargo

How students lives could look very different

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Coronavirus may not be in Fargo yet, but it could be.

Just like most worldwide news, people in the U.S. largely kept quiet about the spread of coronavirus until it came to our front door. On Feb. 29, the first U.S. citizen with coronavirus died from the illness. 

As the likelihood of the disease reaching deeper into the U.S. becomes more evident every day, the way that it will affect the everyday lives of citizens, and the ways it will end up affecting the students at NDSU should be considered. Fargo with a coronavirus outbreak will look very different and while it does no good to spread unwarranted fear, it’s important to think about what our lives could very soon look like. 

For a better understanding of the coronavirus, it’s important to know some basic facts. According to Worldometer, the global total number of cases currently stands at 86,602, with 42,135 individuals fully recovering and 2,977 individuals dying. 

When a person first contracts coronavirus they usually experience a cough, fever and flu-like symptoms. In total, for 80.9 percent of people with the illness, that’s as far as the symptoms get. However, 13.8 percent of people will have severe symptoms including pneumonia and shortness of breath. A final 4.7 percent of people will have a critical response that involves respiratory failure, septic shock and multi-organ failure. 

Fargo with a coronavirus outbreak will look very different and while it does no good to spread unwarranted fear, it’s important to think about what our lives could very soon look like.

What’s so troubling about coronavirus is that the incubation period is anywhere between two and 14 days; meaning, someone can have the illness for up to two weeks without knowing it. In that time, they will likely transmit the disease to two or three other people. 

It’s impossible as of the moment to determine what the mortality rate is. Battegue Manu from Swiss Medical Weekly stated: “At present, it is tempting to estimate the case fatality rate by dividing the number of known deaths by the number of confirmed cases. The resulting number, however, does not represent the true case fatality rate and might be off by orders of magnitude […] A precise estimate of the case fatality rate is therefore impossible at present.”

Thus far, there have been 68 reported cases of coronavirus in the U.S., with one death taking place in Washington. In other places in the world, outbreaks have been much worse. Travel is not advised to certain parts of China and Italy, with individuals in these places being forced to stay home and not leave their homes. Travel out of Iran is currently banned. 

So how would life change if coronavirus reached Fargo and NDSU? Well, to start, most everyone would be stuck inside. Retail workers, food service workers and anyone with a non-necessity profession would be out of work as long as the disease’s spread persists. Not going to work might seem fun for the first few days, but as bills pile up and households get antsy, things are likely to get miserable.

Looking at residence halls, things could quickly get dangerous if hundreds of people are stuck in a small space sharing bathrooms. There would likely be several tedious precautions in place to protect students. 

And how will we feed people? Food delivery people will still have to come in contact with many people and without public dining centers (which could become hubs for the spread of the illness) people on campus will have few resources for food. 

All classes will become online. Perhaps this will be fine for math or English classes, but for science labs or students who need to do in-person work, they’ll be stuck. Nursing students won’t be able to get their clinical hours. Art students won’t have access to the resources and technology necessary to finish their work (it’s a little hard to throw a clay pot without clay). Education students will lose the chance to complete their student-teaching.

The likelihood of people’s graduation schedule getting pushed back is high, but that will seem of little consequence if people are contracting coronavirus.

If coronavirus continues to spread and it reaches Fargo, it will fundamentally change the way we live our lives in every way. These problems seem a world away, but they’re taking place in Washington, California and Illinois, which is still in the midwest. 

Of course, it would be amazing if the spread of coronavirus were to cease, but it’s likely that it won’t. So instead of hoping and wishing nothing happens, it’s important that NDSU and students themselves begin to prepare for what will happen if the disease reaches our area.

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