I walked into Costco to see for myself. Had there really been a run on water and toilet paper as a result of hysteria having to do with the coronavirus? The answer is yes! This, in spite of the fact that there has been no indication that our water supplies could either be contaminated or shut off in the event of a pandemic, and this particular flu affects the lungs and not the digestive tract. The other run on the market that at least made some sense was the hoarding of hand sanitizer.
Whereas, I believe people should be duly concerned about the coronavirus, I also believe some media and some politicians (naming this flu the Trump Virus!) have irresponsibly whipped up the populace. This has to do with the fact that this year’s “regular” flu (H1N1) has, thus far, been much more deadly than the coronavirus.
The CDC estimates this year there have been at least 34 million flu illnesses, 350,000 hospitalizations, and 20,000 deaths. In comparison, here in the United States, as of March 6, the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus was 148 persons with 10 deaths having occurred according to the World Health Organization. The media has ignored this comparative threat assessment. Another thing the media has ignored is that 80% of coronavirus cases the world over have been classified as mild or asymptomatic, the latter meaning the people didn’t have any symptoms at all!
Nevertheless, here was the opening paragraph from an Associated Press piece, dripping with drama and woe, “Crossing more borders, the new coronavirus hit a milestone Friday, infecting more than 100,000 people worldwide as it wove itself deeper into the daily lives of millions, infecting the powerful, the unprotected poor and vast masses in between”.
The press, firm believers in the maxim that if the story bleeds, it leads, has done nothing to help keep things in perspective. For instance, the more recent actual pandemic occurred in 2009. From April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases, 274,304 hospitalizations, and 12,469 deaths in the United States due to that virus, indicating less mortality than this year’s regular flu!
Let’s compare these statistics with the 1918 influenza pandemic, which according to the CDC “was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919. In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring of 1918. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.”
One of the reasons the 1918 flu was so deadly had to do with the fact that back then there were no vaccinations available and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections that can be associated with influenza infections. Fortunately, here in America, the likelihood of the coronavirus affecting us to this degree is extremely remote. Furthermore, let’s not forget that we managed, in recent memory to survive the Hong Kong Flu, the Avian Flu, the Swine Flu, and SARS, not to mention the threats associated with Legionnaire’s Disease and Ebola!
Meanwhile, speaking of plagues of truly biblical proportions, did you know that a tsunami of hundreds of billions of locusts has eaten most of the crops in Africa and is heading towards China? Unfortunately, though tens of millions of people could end up starving to death in Africa, the world’s attention is elsewhere.
Andy Caldwell is a conservative Santa Maria radio host, founder of COLAB of Santa Barbara County and a candidate for the 24th Congressional District seat. He is writing as a private citizen.
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