COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) PAGE

Frank E. Ritter, Na Li, Fatoumata Cissé, Garrett Barch

with contributions from the late Fred Ryan
College of IST, Penn State
Updated as of: 7apr21

Is Covid-19 just the flu?

No. There are several differences:

  1. The mortality rate of the flu is .057% [CDC] and the morality rate of COVID-19 is 1.8% [link]. This mortality rate for COVID-19 is substantially higher.
  2. The flu does not generally provide further, long lasting damage to people, which can be called morbidity [Wikipedia: Morbidity], COVID-19 can cause a wide range of morbidity [CDC on types of COVID-19 morbidity], [UK government site, noting perhaps as high as 10% of positive cases]. For example, up to 1/3 of those infected will have some brain disease [The Lancet and CNN version].
  3. Hospitals do not become incapaciated with flu cases every winter. On the other hand with COVID-19, we have seen hospitals in China [UMn center's report], Italy [CBS], Spain [NBC], New York [NYTimes], Florida [NBC Miami] and now South Dakota [PBS], and El Paso, TX [Dallas News paper] became saturated and have had to turn away patients. Flu does not cause this to happen every winter or even any winter.
  4. How easily it spreads, the R0, is higher than the flu. The flu is approimately 1.28 [CDC: Flu R0], and COVID-19 is higher, perhaps 2.5 [CDC: COVID R0]. So, on average, if you do not take mitigation measures, COVID-19 will spread faster than the flu.

Is it safe for children and adults to have?

If you find a 1 in 100,000 to to 1 in 10 chance of death safe, then, it is safe. Many cases (perhaps 8 out of 10) have no symptoms, 1 might end up very sick but not sick enough to go to the hsopital, and 1 end up in the hospital. This is an unusual virus because the range of responses is unusually wide [cite]. Most medical and health care folks do not think this is safe. The health care system does not like 1/1000 chances, and does not even tolorate 1/100 except when it has to. Also, we have some morbidity where there is long term damage. Many of the people who catch it call it the worst flu they have ever had [e.g.,]. Some folks (we don't know how many) who have it, come out the other end having lost 10 to 100 pounds []. Perhaps 10% of people with COVID-19 are expected to be long-haulers [UK government site].

There also appears to be a bump in death in general. That is, the normal death rate, excluding COVID-19 cases, seems to be 10-20-50% higher than normal [cite].

If I get sick, can't I just go to the hospital?

Yes, if you get sick, you can go to the hospital.

But, if enough people have COVID-19, they will already be in the hospital. While it appears that hospitals always have room, it is the case (see above) that hospitals can get full of COVID-19 cases. When this happens, they tend to turn away elective surgery and elective procedure patients, such as hip replacements. A hospital full of covid-19 patients also makes it harder to support appendicitis and heart patients, accident victims, and new births. The number of intensive care hospital beds in the US tends to be less than 0.1%. So, a town of 40,000 people might have 40 ICU beds. It does not take a lot of people to get sick to fill those up—if they are not already full with the patients that would normally be in an ICU—heart attack patients, automobile and motorcyle crash victims, burn victims, other infections.

Finally, we are also seeing that keep the ICUs at full capacity fatigues the people working in them.



Further links

ID Title    |   Author Date URL
1 Doctors and Nurses Reveal the Devastating Reality of COVID-19 | NBC New York 04/04/20 Link
2 Doctors Describe the COVID-19 Hospital Fight | NBC New York 04/03/20 Link
3 Here’s Why COVID-19 Is Much Worse Than the Flu | 05/14/20 Link
4 Past Seasons Estimated Influenza Disease Burden | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 01/09/20 Link
5 Diary of a Covid-19 Doctor: 14 Days in a NYC Hospital | WIRED 05/22/20 Link
6 Diary of a Trauma Surgeon: 10 Weeks of Covid-19 | WIRED 06/18/20 Link
7 Florida Governor on rise of covid-19 in Florida | CNN 07/12/20 Link
8 Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Statistics Map | Johns Hopkins 07/13/20 Link
9 FAQS Regarding Covid-19 | CDC 07/03/20 Link
10 Coronavirus Outbreak: Daily Updates | Healthline 07/10/20 Link
11 COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions | FDA 07/10/20 Link
12 Identifying the source of the outbreak | CDC 07/01/20 Link
13 Wuhan Reports New COVID-19 Cases — The City's 1st In More Than A Month | NPR 05/11/20 Link
14 Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest during the Covid-19 Outbreak in Italy | New England Journal of Medicine 04/29/20 Link
15 COVID-19 SubReddit | 07/13/20 Link
16 Worldwide Coronavirus Deaths Pass 500,000 Mark | Fox News 06/28/20 Link
17 The Coronavirus Crisis, Special Section | Wall Street Journal 07/13/20 Link