9 surprising consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic — so far

No matter where we turn these days, coronavirus (COVID-19), is on everyone’s mind. Family members, neighbors, friends and 99% of people on Facebook want to talk to nurses about it.

And for good reason.

The virus is impacting communities big and small nationwide. Globally, the number of cases and fatalities continues to climb. Throughout the disease’s progression across continents, nurses have been at the forefront of care. That is what the public tends to expect from nursing professionals. But many developments have shocked us all.

Here are 9 unexpected twists that COVID-19 has taken — so far:

From unknown to global crisis

On March 11, the WHO designated COVID-19 as a global pandemic, a declaration that has had widespread political and economic ramifications around the world. Three months earlier, no one had ever heard of the disease.

Disease grips Italy

Perhaps the hardest hit nation has been Italy, which has experienced more than 2,100 deaths. One nurse on the front lines in that country equated battling COVID-19 to facing a world war.

Life slows almost to a halt

The virus has closed schools, community centers and suspended the seasons of professional sports leagues. It has caused restaurants and dining areas to close. Because of its rapid ability to spread, COVID-19 has led to a “complete lockdown,” of the San Francisco Bay Area that allows people to only leave their homes for essential needs. From east coast to west coast, our way of life has been drastically changed and social distancing is being touted as a way to save lives.

Sadness in Seattle

The picture of just how bad the virus is can be traced to Life Care Center in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, Wash. As of March 13, COVID-19 had claimed the lives of 29 residents. Meanwhile, 30 of the remaining 43 residents tested positive, according to The Washington Post, along with 60 staff members.

Drive-through testing

Dozens of drive-through COVID-19 testing sites have popped up from California to New York. Medical experts in South Korea say this quick, free testing method has slowed the number of cases and fatalities, thanks to the ability to test approximately 250,000 residents in less than two months.

A run on respirators

As private citizens rushed to buy N95 respirators to protect themselves, that caused the supply to dwindle for American healthcare workers. That has led to the CDC to loosen guidelines for masks, upsetting many healthcare professionals who eventually will care for COVID-19 patients. While manufacturers try to replenish supplies and the federal government reviews ways to increase production, some local construction sites began offering to donate their N95 respirators to local hospitals.

Hand washing and the rush to sanitize

The simplest of tasks has become a rallying cry across the world: Wash your hands. Nurses around the globe are reminding people from ages 2 to 92 of the importance of hand hygiene, while the public scurries to find hand sanitizers in stock online or at their local grocery stores.

Americans rushing to stock up on essentials for potential quarantines cleared the shelves of food, toilet paper, disinfectants and, most importantly, hand sanitizer. This led to homemade sanitizer recipes and distilleries making their own concoctions.

A race to a vaccine

Scientists worldwide are working to produce a potential vaccine. In Seattle, the first volunteer received an experimental dose during a clinical trial for a vaccine. Health experts maintain that a fully available coronavirus vaccine will take about 12-18 months to be ready.

States enact their own initiatives

As Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker calls in the National Guard to help with anything from meal distribution to school children to possibly establishing drive-up testing sites, California plans to buy two vacant hospitals and prepare them for a possible surge in patients.

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