Unfortunately, one year later, the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much a reality. Students are feeling the effects of the pandemic as schools have either gone remote or instituted drastic changes to comply with safety recommendations. Students may have loved ones who have gotten sick or had a parent who has lost or had to change jobs. The activities in this lesson plan gives teachers a starting point for discussing and learning more about the Covid 19 pandemic, the public and government response, what we can learn from the past, and the safety measures we should all employ.
The numbers used in Covid discussions continue to grow beyond imagination. As of February 2021, Covid 19 cases around the globe have exceeded 106.5 million. There have been 2.32 million deaths worldwide from Covid. In the United States alone, there have been over 27 million cases with over 465,000 deaths. This is vastly more than any other country. The United States makes up over 18% of Covid deaths worldwide despite the fact that the United States only makes up about 4% of the world's population.
On December 31, 2019, the first confirmed cases of Covid 19 were detected in Wuhan, China. Scientists saw that because this was a new disease that humans did not have immunity to, it would spread quickly and be devastating. Less than one month later, on January 21, 2020, Washington state declared its first case of Covid 19, becoming the first confirmed case on U.S. soil. About a month after that, on February 26, 2020, CDC (Center for Disease Control) officials confirmed a case of Covid 19 in California that had no known origin, leading them to believe it was the first case of "community spread". This was significant because without being able to identify the origin of transmission, scientists knew that this could mean the disease could quickly spread out of control.
On March 11, 2020, the WHO (World Health Organization) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, meaning a disease that was now prevalent all over the world. Following the WHO's announcement, the Trump administration declared a national emergency, which allowed for $50 billion in federal resources to be released to combat coronavirus. There were conflicting messages regarding mask wearing in the early days. Some thought it unnecessary while many scientists urged that masks and social distancing would drastically reduce the spread of the virus.
Scientists quickly began researching a vaccine, but it took many months to develop and study. On December 14, 2020, almost a year after the first confirmed case, U.S. Officials announced that the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine were delivered to all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. Days later, the FDA authorized another coronavirus vaccine by Moderna. While the distribution of the vaccine was slower than projected, as of Feb. 3rd, 27 million people in the US got the first dose and 6 million were fully vaccinated. Scientists caution that precautions like masks and social distancing should remain in effect until the pandemic ends.
As of February 9, 2021, there have been 27,101,604 confirmed cases in the U.S. There have also been 465,435 deaths caused by Covid 19, which is about the amount of people in the population of Atlanta, Georgia. The tragedy of lives lost can not be overstated, and many wonder what the "new normal" will look like in years to come.
In these activities, students will demonstrate their knowledge about the Covid 19 pandemic of today and have the opportunity to research other pandemics from the past.