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COVID-19: What Coaches Need to Know...

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By Jeff Sankoff (trainingpeaks.com)

At this point, nearly everyone knows about the dangers presented by the Coronavirus, but as coaches, what do we need to tell our athletes?

What is COVID-19? Where did it come from? 

COVID-19 is a newly discovered, novel Coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that circulate widely and are commonly found in humans and many mammals such as cows, camels, cats, pigs and bats. Normally, Coronavirus infection causes a mild respiratory illness that we think of as a ‘common cold.’  ...

Occasionally, Coronaviruses that infect animals jump to infect humans. When this happens the disease is often more serious. Past instances of this include the Coronaviruses responsible for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS.) Scientists believe the former originated in bats, while the latter came from camels. SARS virus is not very contagious and has a mortality of around 10% while MERS is quite contagious and has a mortality of around 35%. Like SARS, COVID-19 likely originated in bats but unlike SARS or MERS, COVID-19 is more contagious but with significantly lower mortality.

How bad is COVID-19 infection?

To date, COVID-19 is much more dangerous than a common cold or even the flu, but the actual mortality rate remains unclear. As of this writing (3/7/2020), just under 102,000 cases of COVID-19 infection have been diagnosed worldwide and 3,486 deaths have been directly attributed to the infection. This would suggest a mortality rate of 3.5%.

Compare this to the annual influenza epidemic that has a mortality rate of 0.1%. Also, consider the 1918 Spanish Flu–the last major pandemic that had a mortality rate of just over 2% and resulted in more than 18 million deaths worldwide. In the case of COVID-19, the 3.5% number is likely very misleading. The reason for this is that the vast majority of COVID-19 infections are minor or even asymptomatic and as a result may not get diagnosed.

For this reason, the actual number of cases may be much higher than 102,000. If so, this would drive the mortality rate down, though by how much is a matter of considerable speculation. Still, the high infectivity, and the fact that a considerable number of infected will die, is enough for public health officials to be appropriately alarmed.  READ MORE

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