EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is written as a reflection on the last six months of the pandemic and its impact in the United States. It is written from the virus's perspective.
My name is SARS-CoV-2. You might know me better as the novel coronavirus. It’s been six months since I made it to the United States.
This is how I’ve changed your life and your world in such a short time.
I was first confirmed in the United States on Jan. 21, when a man in Washington tested positive.
In the beginning, I caused shortness of breath, fever, and coughing. Then, people started losing their senses of taste and smell.
On Feb. 11, 21 days after I was found in the United States, scientists named a new disease after me. COVID-19.
In that first 21 days, I infected 12 people in the U.S.
65 days later, on March 27, I had infected more than 100,000 people.
The average patient was between 50 and 60 years old.
Over the next 65 days, I had infected a total of more than 1.8 million people - an increase of more than 1664% compared to the previous 65 days.
By July 7, more than three million people were infected. The average patient's age dropped to 33 years old.
I am a virus. I spread easily on ships, on trains and on planes.
Fewer people were traveling, so airlines had to cut their flight schedules.
On April 14, 84,000 people went through TSA checkpoints at U.S. airports - a 96% drop from the same day last year. By June 1, U.S. airlines cut global routes by nearly 75%.
Governments put shutdowns into place hoping to stop the spread. That's when I began taking a toll on jobs.
From mid-March to the first week of July, more than 48 million people filed for unemployment. The national unemployment rate went from 3.5% in February to 14.7% in April to more than 11% in June.
I took a toll on your businesses. Nearly 100 companies with more than 500 employees have filed for bankruptcy.
Household names like J. Crew, JCPenney and Neiman Marcus sought relief from the burden of billions of dollars in debt and no sign of a customer comeback. Brooks Brothers, a 200-year-old company, turned to bankruptcy because of a six-month-old pandemic.
I took a toll on your stock market. During the last week of February, stock markets worldwide saw their largest one-week losses since the 2008 financial crisis. By June, markets rebounded. But, instability remained.
As months went by, states began to reopen to help save businesses.
Texas started reopening in April. First, it was retail-to-go. Then, dining indoors. And bars reopened.
You started going out. I started to spread faster.
It took me 76 days to infect the first 50,000 people in Texas. It took me just 31 more days to hit 100,000 cases. 11 days after that, Texas crossed 150,000 cases. It took only eight more days to reach 200,000 cases in Texas.
There are people who recover from my virus.
In the six months that I’ve been in the United States, an estimated 953,000 people have recovered.
But, doctors are still figuring out what recovery looks like because scientists are watching me transform. Doctors don’t know if you’re immune to me after you’re infected.
Scientists are making progress on a vaccine. At least one vaccine has shown a positive response in patients. But, until a vaccine gets approved, you will continue to fight to stop my spread.
Some of you will social distance. Others won’t.
Some of you will wear a mask. Others won’t.
Some of you will stay home. Others won’t.
My name is Sars C-O-V-2.
You might know me better as the novel coronavirus.
Six months ago, I made it to the United States.
180 days later, one thing is clear.
I’ve changed your lives forever.