The Swift Trajectory Of Coronavirus

Cisco Cotto
January 29, 2020 - 6:00 am

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) – People are getting inundated with information about Coronavirus, now that it has moved from China to the United States. But how much danger is there to the general public?

This week’s In Depth takes a look.

“We don’t want to be alarmist,” says Dr. Jennifer Grant, an infectious disease physician with NorthShore University HealthSystem.

“One of the big takeaways is that the general public right now is not at high risk for this,” she tells WBBM Newsradio’s Cisco Cotto. “We’re really focusing on people who have traveled to China or potentially been exposed to somebody with the virus and who are feeling sick with a respiratory illness.”

There is no cure for Coronavirus or preventive vaccine, Grant notes. All physicians can do for an infected person is to try to alleviate their symptoms with medicine.

Few have been diagnosed with the virus in the U.S. – one of the cases is in the Chicago area – but it’s a different story in China. The death toll has risen to more than 100, with more than 4,565 cases of infection. Government officials have clamped down on travel and the activities of the general public. 

So far, the ripple effect hasn’t impacted domestic air travel, says transportation expert Joe Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute at DePaul University in Chicago. But international travel is taking a hit.

“This is kind of spiraling right now, the groups are canceling plans, the airlines are preparing for the worst, and I’m afraid this is going to be quite the long soap opera,” Schwieterman said.

The financial markets also have reacted negatively to Coronavirus as the number of infected people and reported deaths have grown overseas. Economist Andrew Busch, author of the book “Word Event Trading,” said that shouldn’t be surprising.

“If this is more prolonged, then the uncertainty starts to build – and so will the move to the downside,” Busch said.

Transportation-related companies, such as airlines, are the most potentially vulnerable, he said. So, too, are companies that sponsor public events and depend on crowds. Conversely, streaming companies such as Netflix may do well as people stay in, he says.

In Depth is the WBBM Newsradio weekly podcast that takes a deep dive into a timely issue. Next week: the rising water levels of Lake Michigan.