Agriculture and COVID-19
COVID-19 isn't selective about where it makes its impacts. Explore below and learn how the pandemic is affecting agriculture, businesses, local governments and consumers and what actions may be needed to protect yourself, your family and your employees.
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Severe weather and COVID-19
By Sammy Sadaka, Ph.D., M.Sc, MCGOM, P.E., P.Eng.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed nearly everyone's lives. During this pandemic, we've endured several waves of severe weather, including tornadoes. This demonstrates the importance for communities in Arkansas and across the nation to prepare themselves to respond to the spread of the pandemic while facing the impacts of dangerous weather.
First, you need to know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
The Storm Prediction Center issues tornado watches when tornadoes are possible in the area, and the conditions or the weather is right for a tornado to occur. A watch encompasses a broad area (sometimes several states) and lasts for several hours.
On the other hand, tornado warnings are issued by local National Weather Service Forecast Offices, when a tornado is either on the ground or has been detected by Doppler radar. A warning is for a small area (one or more counties) and usually lasts for 30 minutes to an hour. A tornado warning means that citizens should seek shelters immediately, and at the same time, they should follow the CDC guidelines for virus transmission prevention, such as social distancing where possible.
Why does creating a vaccine take so long?
By Heidi Ward, DVM, PhD
Many people are wondering why it takes so long to make a vaccine that will protect us from coronavirus. After all, don’t we already have coronavirus vaccines for other animals?
To understand the situation, one must first understand that viruses do not function like living cells. Instead, viruses are genetic material wrapped in a protein coat that target specific cells for the use of that cell’s machinery to replicate. The process always damages the target animal cell. To make vaccines against viruses, researchers have used inactivated virus, killed virus, parts of a virus, and parts of a virus genetically added to a lesser virus in order to get a person’s body to make antibodies to the virus.
The most effective antibodies will directly target the part of the virus that attaches to the target animal cell. Because animal cells are species-specific, a vaccine created for a cow is based on the virus target that attaches to cow cells. To combat (human) COVID-19 which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, scientists must first identify the exact protein on the human cells that are targeted by the virus and how the virus actually attaches to that cell.
There are several vaccines for COVID-19 currently in development and one that was developed by Oxford University is already being tested in humans. The Oxford vaccine uses a modified common cold virus that has SARS-CoV-2 proteins added to it. Once a vaccine is deemed safe and effective (which can take six months to a year for clinical trials), it will be mass-produced and distributed to the healthcare community.
The race for a Covid-19 vaccine began as early as November 2019. With that starting point, it is feasible that a working vaccine may become available as early as September 2020. Meanwhile, social distancing, wearing face masks, and washing hands frequently remain the mainstays for avoiding infection.
1) What is a novel coronavirus?
A: A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
2) Why is the disease being called coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19?
A: On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan, China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.
There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. The name of this disease was selected following the World Health Organization, or WHO, best practice for naming of new human infectious diseases.
3) What is the source of the virus?
A: Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people.
4) How does the virus spread?
A: This virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person-to-person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so.
The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
4) Will warm weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19?
A: It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months. At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.
5) Does the CDC recommend the use of a facemask to prevent COVID-19?
A. CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures
are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas
of significant community-based transmission.
CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.
Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
6) Should I be tested for COVID-19?
A: Call your healthcare professional if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.
Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
- Handwashing Campaign Posters (CDC): http://bit.ly/HandWash1
COVID-19 fact checking / mythbusting
The World Health Organization has a page devoted to COVID-19 myth-busting.