Enough is enough already! I have heard it said by many in the news media and then repeated by family members mostly millennials, that we are in the midst of the greatest pandemic in our country’s history since The Spanish Flu”. Maybe in terms of absolute numbers, but not on a per capita bases. And by looking back maybe we can gain some insight into our own little pandemic.
My senior year of high school spanned the years 1968-69. During that year Bobby Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King were both assassinated. On August 15th of 1969 for 6 days and nights the Woodstock music festival in upstate NY took place. If you talk to anyone from that era they will tell you that they were there, but those who were really there will tell you that if you can remember Woodstock you weren’t there. But nobody seems to remember that these years spanned the season of the “Hong Kong Flu”. Primitive serologic testing was not available at that time the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test was not developed until 1985 by Dr. Keri Mullin, but samples of that era have been retrieved from archives and contact tracing tells that pandemics story, According to CDC information on the WEB between 50,000 and 100,000 people died during that pandemic, but reputable virologists have opined that the number could be twice that.
There were only 200 million people living in the USA at that time so the raw fatality rate was using the lower estimate number 100,000/200,000,000=0.0005 or .05%. To date, we have had 160,000 deaths and there are 350million people living in our country for a rate of 160,000/350,000,000=0.0004571 or 0.045%–almost exactly the same mortality rate. Case Fatality Rate (CFR) and Infection Fatality Rates(IFR) could not be estimated in real time because there were no serology tests, but mitigation strategy of isolating at-risk patients 60% who died then were over 65 sound familiar? Was executed and probably better than what we are doing today.
The Hong Kong Flu (H3N2) and possibly a second strain was particularly devastating amongst military personal who were serving in South East Asia during the Viet Nam War. In Idaho, I was unable to find absolute morbidity and mortality data on the pandemic in our State, but several newspaper articles state that rural and Native American Communities were particularly hard hit. But in Idaho with a very few exceptions life went on as normal. Herd immunity was established within the season of the outbreak. Schools stayed open, athletics at all levels were played, and business, churches and neighborhoods functioned normally. And again this pandemic was just as acute and penetrating as what we are experiencing today. And just as a further reminder look at the chart below this column to gain a perspective about morbidity and mortality in Idaho. And pray we never forget about the 2000 baby boys and girls who are aborted every year in our state. Ten times more than the probable CIVID=19 number.
In the rest of the country children and young adults went to school and college. Sports of all kinds were played and students and participants were able to learn the unique life lessons that athletics can teach like how to win and lose, deal with both triumph and adversity with equanimity. Lessons that can’t be learned on a computer or in a classroom or on an organic chemistry lab bench. Each method of learning has something to offer and to miss out on athletics particularly is to miss out on something special. There is no place on earth where lessons about diversity, disparity, individual uniqueness and the sanctity of the individual are better taught than on an athletic team. Placing the needs of the team above those of the individual is something very few of our politicians or government bureaucrats seem to understand. Denying students these types of opportunities is not doing anybody a favor. By the way are funds being cut to the theater, music, and equal opportunity programs throughout the State?
And the way our elderly have been treated in this pandemic is more than shameful, it is sinful. Nobody should be made to die alone without family. Why should we be made to die in a hospital or a nursing care facility unless there is absolutely no family to be in attendance? After the 1st two weeks of lockdown which were appropriate in my opinion, each elderly patient and each person with a co-morbid condition, should have be identified and married to a Health Care Provider (HCP) not a delivery system or insurance company but a doctor, PA or FNP.
There is no question that early on access was stifled and when elderly patients were discharged from hospitals they were sent back to unsafe places where they also put others in jeopardy. From a public health point of view this was negligence. From the clinicians’ point of view, it was malpractice. Confining the elderly indoors in a closed space without proper ventilation and most of all without access to the outdoors is almost a death sentence in my opinion. On the CDC web site are scientific articles from every pandemic since 1919 proving that the outdoors, sunlight and exercise are as important as social distancing—especially amongst the elderly?
|ID Leading Causes of Death, 2017||Deaths||Rate***||State Rank*||U.S. Rate**|
|1. Heart Disease||3,084||162.4||22nd||165.0|
|2. Cancer||3,020||153.2||28th (tie)||152.5|
|3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases||925||47.2||18th||40.9|
|6. Alzheimer’s Disease||672||36.6||16th||31.0|
|7. Diabetes||394||20.3||29th (tie)||21.5|
|10. Parkinson’s Disease||206||11.1|
It is either self-centeredness or conceit to think that this is our country’s “greatest pandemic” It is the role of science not to defeat nature but to mitigate our symbiotic relationship with nature. There is nothing that science can discover or invent that wasn’t 1st created. The world’s greatest scientist Galileo Galilei, Kepler, the Bernoulli brothers, Einstein, Copernicus, all understood that we are part of a creation created by a Creator and that we cannot control everything that impacts our lives. To stop living today because of the irrational fear of our most recent pandemic is more because of our own individual lack of faith in God, and because we place too much value in safety and security. Concern yes. Fear no. Fear is irrational. “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to their span of life?”