COVID-19, or coronavirus, has taken American lives. It will take more. COVID-19 is unquestionably serious, but, perspective about the virus has been scarce.
For a start, coronavirus is not our first pandemic.
Americans who lived through it remember 2009 when H1N1, a virus of Mexican origin known colloquially as “swine flu,” broke out. But, nobody remembers any panic, not among media, officials or the general public. There were no mandatory quarantines, shutdowns, layoffs, or general school closings. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer remained plentiful even though H1N1 primarily infected children and working age adults, contaminated surfaces and was easily transmitted.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) identified H1N1 here in April, 2009, declared it a public health emergency later that month, and, in June, the World Health Organization declared an H1N1 pandemic.
Four months later, on October 24, when President Barack Obama’s administration finally grasped H1N1’s potential and declared a national emergency, one thousand Americans had already died. Before it was over, up to 575,000 people died worldwide. Swine flu infected about 60 million Americans, hospitalized nearly 300,000 and killed more than 12,000. Nevertheless, high school, college and professional sports seasons – everything – went on as scheduled.
What’s different now?
Media: “Swine flu vs. coronavirus: COVID-19 death rate is the difference.” An early 3 percent estimate of COVID-19’s mortality rate was frightening, but, its actual rate cannot be calculated, because, according to scientists, up to 86 percent of cases are untested or asymptomatic.
Because most COVID-19-infected people remain asymptomatic or mistake mild symptoms for common colds, the true coronavirus death rate cannot possibly meet doomsayers’ estimates. In fact, its rate may be closer to, although perhaps not as low as seasonal flu death rates. In recent years, seasonal flu has caused as many as 61,000 American deaths annually.
China identified COVID-19 early in December, 2019. According to reports, by Monday morning, March 23, coronavirus had infected more than 343,000 people worldwide and killed 14,770, mostly in China and countries with nationalized, resource- and access-limited health services. The same morning, America counted 35,070 known infections and 458 deaths. U.S. numbers are still rising, so quantifying final numbers will take time, but, national and world-wide COVID-19 statistics still pale in comparison to prior epidemics.
There is no doubt, though, that, following H1N1, America should have been better prepared.
But, back then, there was no media-driven swine flu hysteria. Media watched non-critically as the Obama administration and Democrat-controlled Congress took no emergency measures while millions of Americans were infected, hundreds of thousands hospitalized and thousands died. Nor was it reported that the Obama administration never resupplied the national stockpile of vitally important N95 respirator masks depleted during the H1N1 epidemic to standards set by the 2005 “National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza” – or at all.
Years ago, Americans came together during national crises. Today, Democrats and their media shills ignore the Obama administration’s failures to implement crisis management measures and, more critically, preserve or improve America’s pandemic readiness, while sniping at and politicizing the Trump administration’s prompt, decisive efforts to protect everyone’s health.
Call me cynical for attributing partisan political motives to fault-finding derelicts, especially during a pandemic, but, regarding Democrat/media politics, cynicism is almost always rewarded.