The numbers are continually changing as the coronavirus COVID-19 continues to spread around the world. It is also important to remember at this point the pandemic is in early stages and is expected to get much worse.

   The good news is the worst seems to past for Wuhan, China, where the disease was first identified in December. New cases confirmed appear to have fallen to just a few each day, down from the hundreds diagnosed each day about a month ago.

   To date, there are 189,160 confirmed cases worldwide, with approximately 81,000 of those in China. So far, the virus has killed 7,497 people, most of whom are elderly with underlying health conditions such as COPD. About 3,300 of those deaths occurred in China. Of the nearly 190,0000 people who have contracted the disease, more than 80,643 have now fully recovered.

   Actions taken by government and health officials in the U.S. appear to be working in reducing, or at least slowing the spread of the virus to people within the U.S. There have been only 5,145 confirmed cases identified in the U.S. as of press time on Tuesday, March 17, with 91 people dying. The first cases in the U.S. were identified about 50 days behind those in China.

   Besides China, six other countries appear to be suffering more from this pandemic than the U.S. Italy has confirmed nearly 28,000 cases of the disease. Iran has identified 16,169, Spain 11,309, South Korea 8,320, Germany 8,084 and France 6,664, according to the John Hopkins Hospital website.

   The U.S. has taken the unprecedented step of banning travel from infected areas, first China and now Europe.

   First seen in a nursing home in Seattle, Washington, the disease has spread across the country and reached Mississippi this past weekend. On Tuesday morning the Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting 21 confirmed cases in this state. So far, no deaths have occurred in Mississippi. By county, there are two in Copiah, three in Forrest, one in Harrison, six in Hinds, one in Jackson, four in Leflore, one in Monroe and two in Pearl River.

   No cases have been found in George County.

   While it is still early in the spread of COVID-19, it is interesting to compare it with past pandemics.

   The H1N1 swine flu pandemic that lasted from early 2009 until late in 2010. That virus, later determined to be no more serious than the yearly flu, infected nearly a quarter of the world’s population or about one billion people. The number of estimated deaths worldwide was somewhere between 150,000 and 575,000.

   The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates between April 2009 and April 2010, some 60.8 million Americans contracted the disease. More than 273,300 were hospitalized and nearly 12,500 died.

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