CHICO, Calif. –With an increasing number of deaths and more people around the country testing positive for the coronavirus, will our Northern California region see an explosion in cases, similar to what is happening in New York?
Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough put that question to Stanford researcher, Dr. Michael Lin. He is a neurobiologist studying the coronavirus.
Yarbough asked him about patterns impacting the rate of spread of the coronavirus.
“Is there somewhat of a tipping point or a threshold, that all of a sudden a community needs to be aware that they are going to explode in cases?”
“The big problem with this virus has been the long incubation period. You can have the virus for five to seven days and be transmitting for some of the time and not realize it,” explains Dr. Lin.
“So what has happened in places like Italy and New York is that transmission happened before people realized it and the mild cases are just like a cold or flu and so people might believe they have something else and not corona.”
He goes on to explain, “The real warning sign is when you have one patient in your community who has been diagnosed and that means it's already going around. If you have deaths in your community that's a bad sign; that means enough of the virus has been going around that some people have started to die. The death rate is about 1%; that means if someone has died, the virus has been in your community and has probably already infected hundreds of people for a few weeks and that's a major concern. Once you see deaths, you're going to see a few more.”
Dr. Lin says this coronavirus pandemic should teach the public and government leaders the importance of being educated and aware before a crisis hits.
STANFORD RESEARCHER CHARACTERIZES THE CORONAVIRUS AS A 'PARASITE'
What are researchers learning about the coronavirus? How does it live, how does it spread and what role are humans playing in helping it thrive?
Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough put that question to Stanford professor Dr. Michael Lin; a neurobiologist and one of the leading researchers working on the coronavirus.
Yarbough asked Dr. Lin, “Is this virus alive, is it not, how do we get rid of it and if it's not alive, how do we kill it? And if it's not alive how does it ‘live’ on a surface?”
“Viruses kind of live in this grey zone between living and dead. They're alive in a sense that they can reproduce but depend on a host,” explains Dr. Lin.
“It’s best to think of them as a parasite. They are parasitic things that will reproduce inside a person."
“Because the virus can reproduce in people it will grow to large numbers and each infected person can infect many more people, who are known as super-spreaders that have infected 70 people, huge numbers from a single person.”
On average the virus tends to infect two or three other people before the patient is healed so that number is big, because if each infects two to three others, we get into this rapid number of cases over time. It is very important to practice social distancing so we can break this chain of transmission, so projections show 50 percent of the population can be infected by June, that's how rapidly the virus spreads.”
Dr. Lin says the positive aspects of the coronavirus include the fact this virus is not one that mutates quickly. He says that gives researchers more time to figure it out. He adds, the virus does not live for long if it doesn’t have a host; describing it as a ‘weak’ virus.