Rt represents the effective reproduction rate of the virus calculated for each locale. It lets us estimate how many secondary infections are likely to occur from a single infection in a specific area. Values over 1.0 mean we should expect more cases in that area, values under 1.0 mean we should expect fewer.
Below is a living graph of the rates of infection for the state of Missouri. You can find other states and data by clicking HERE.
The Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering has developed an online dashboard to visualize and track reported COVID-19 cases on a daily timescale; the complete set of data is downloadable as a google sheet.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses known to cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans, these viruses cause (typically) mild to moderate respiratory infections, like the common cold. Two of the newer coronaviruses, MERS and SARS, have been known to cause severe illness and can be fatal.
Most coronaviruses infect animals and rarely evolve to infect and spread between humans.
The most recent coronavirus to make the news is the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19 It has caused an outbreak of respiratory illness that was first detected in Wuhan, China. Early patients were linked to a large seafood and animal market, but more recent ones reported no exposure to animal markets which indicated person-to-person spread, though it is unclear how easily.
Novel Coronavirus 2019, Wuhan, China. (2020, January 28). Retrieved May 06, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
Novel has a few meanings in the English language. Merriam-Webster can give more information on that, but in the case of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) refers to a virus (or bacteria) that has not previously been identified before. That's not to say this virus did not exist before December 2019, but it did not exist in a form that could infect humans. This is a virus that had previously only infected animals but mutated to infect humans. In some cases, the virus can only be transmitted via an animal host to a human host, which limits the spread. In the case of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus mutated further to spread via human to human contact. Of note, while coronaviruses are found in many mammals, this novel coronavirus has not been shown to be a danger to our domestic pets (such as dogs and cats).
Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), is a global leader in addressing public health preparedness and emerging infectious disease response. CIDRAP released their viewpoint on COVID-19 on April 30th, 2020 that details their projections for how the pandemic will progress over the course of the next 2 years. The pressing issues presented by CIDRAP are summarized below with the full report available as a PDF.
1.SARS-CoV-2 appears to spread more easily than the flu due to a higher R0
2. A higher R means more people will need to get infected and become immune before the pandemic can end
3. Based on the most recent flu pandemics, this outbreak will likely last 18 to 24 months
4. It likely won’t be halted until 60% to 70% of the population is immune
5. Depending on control measures and other factors, cases may come in waves of different heights (with high waves signaling major impact) and in different intervals
These Treatment Guidelines have been developed to inform clinicians how to care for patients with COVID-19. Because clinical information about the optimal management of COVID-19 is evolving quickly, these Guidelines will be updated frequently as published data and other authoritative information becomes available.