I am writing this post today because I am Angry. Sad. Frustrated. Disappointed. Disheartened. Mourning. Scared. And did I say “Angry”? If the Novel Coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, continues to spread at the rate it currently is spreading, or even at a slightly improved rate, I suspect we are all soon going to know someone who dies as a direct result of this virus. As of today, I now know two people who are no longer with us thanks to this virus. One was someone I worked with in the past, and the other, a childhood friend. I have another friend who, along with his wife, were both recently hospitalized with COVID-19. His wife succumbed quickly while he hung on. He was just removed from the ventilator and is now breathing on his own. He will hopefully move into a rehab facility in the near future. He knows his wife is gone but he remains “foggy” and confused.
To those of you who think that COVID-19 is no big deal, or that it is “like the flu”, or a hoax, or that you won’t contract it, please wake up! Stop listening to politicians or business people who don’t have medical training or who think that the economy is more important than the science. I’m not saying the economy isn’t important, and that people aren’t and won’t continue to suffer due to the impacts to the economy. It is important. And people will continue to suffer. And that sucks for them and for all of us.
But COVID-19 is not “like the flu”. Globally, according to the WHO, worldwide about 3.4% of people with reported COVID-19 cases have died so far. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.
More on the differences from Johns Hopkins University (hopkinsmedicine.org):
COVID-19: Caused by one virus, the novel 2019 coronavirus, now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2.
Flu: Caused by any of several different types and strains of influenza viruses.
Transmission: While both the flu and COVID-19 may be transmitted in similar ways, there is also a possible difference: COVID-19 might be spread through the airborne route, meaning that tiny droplets remaining in the air could cause disease in others even after the ill person is no longer near.
Deaths: More from Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S., from Oct. 1, 2019 – Apr. 4, 2020, the CDC estimates that 24,000 to 62,000 people died from the flu. (The CDC does not know the exact number because the flu is not a reportable disease in most parts of the U.S.). COVID-19: In the U.S, 155,478 people have died of COVID-19, as of August 4, 2020.* Even at the high estimate of 62,000 deaths from the flu in six months, the number of COVID-19 known deaths in less than 6 months is two and a half times higher…and still climbing. Current projections by the CDC are that we could see between 168,000 and 182,000 total COVID-19 deaths reported by August 22. That is less than three weeks from today. How long until we have a quarter million dead? Will we have a vaccine and better therapeutics in place before then?
So, in the past, like during WWII, Americans were willing to make sacrifices for the common good and for the welfare of our entire nation. Americans were asked to make do with less of everyday necessities like gasoline, sugar, butter, milk, and toothpaste. Everyone, even children, was issued a ration book. And what are we asking American citizens to do today? To stay inside when you can. To wear a face mask when you leave your home. To stay 6 feet or more from people, to wash your hands frequently, and to not go to large group gatherings where you could transmit it to others or contract it from others. Pretty basic stuff but many people say “it steps on my rights”, or “I can’t breath with a mask on”, or some such nonsense. I was at the gym the other day where they have strict rules about wearing a mask in the common gym areas at all times, social distancing, equipment is spaced out or taped off, etc. A young man was sitting on the floor staring into his phone with his mask sitting on the floor next to him. I asked him to put his mask on and he said “I need to breathe”. I told him he could go outside the gym to breath, or he could do like the rest of us and follow the rules and put his mask on. I’ll spare you the rest of details but he left the club within minutes.
Will you think differently when someone close to you dies from COVID-19? Or when they contract it, hopefully recover, but possibly have to live the rest of their life with permanent damage to vital organs such as their lungs or heart? Is that what it will take for those of you that we are inconveniencing to make the basic sacrifices the scientists and medical experts are asking of us? Let’s not take the cavalier attitude that “It is what it is.” Let’s instead make it into something better – the worst that it has to be because we are willing to make some sacrifices for the common good. For our fellow Americans.
How many people have to die? And how many that you know personally, before you will care and be a responsible American?
Is this really too much to ask?