Officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) have chosen a name for the new coronavirus. It’s now called COVID-19. It’s an acronym for coronavirus disease 2019. The goal was to find a name that didn’t give any reference to people, places or animals to avoid any stigma. With past diseases, the name has resulted in discrimination against individuals from a certain area, such as the case with Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), or certain animals, as was what happened with the swine flu.
This announcement comes as the death toll in China tops 1,000. According to Chinese officials the death toll yesterday was 908 and today it’s at 1,016. The number of cases increased from 40,171 to 42,638 in the same time period. As the numbers continue to rise, individuals are trying to make their way back to their home countries. Some places, like the United States, are providing assistance for citizens to do that. However, Pakistan has told its 800 citizens who are currently in Wuhan rather than coming home and potentially spreading the virus there. The Pakistani government is concerned that their healthcare system, which is already fragile, won’t be able to handle an outbreak of COVID-19. The country is one of the last places in the world that is still dealing with polio. Also, they have high rates of dengue fever and HIV.
Here in the United States, the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, is concerned that the outbreak of COVID-19 could have economic impact. Obviously, China is a major player in the global economy and with them having parts of their country in lockdown it’s greatly affecting their economy. The question is how will that influence the global one and our own. As of right now, Mr. Powell said he is fine with holding interest rates steady, but will continue to closely watch the situation. The recent trade deal with China has eased one major source of economic uncertainty. However, tariffs still remain on some Chinese goods and there’s the possibility that tensions with other nations could flare up. Last year the Fed cut the interest rate three times to protect the economy against wobbling global growth and fallout from the trade battles. Currently, the rate is now set in a range of 1.5 to 1.75%. The Fed operates independently of the White House and answers to Congress. Congress set forth two goals, stabilize inflation and maximize employment, for the Fed to accomplish however it deems necessary.