Trying to find a story on a national newscast or website that isn’t about the coronavirus is like trying to whistle with your mouth full of saltine crackers. It’s not impossible, but very difficult.
It seems you cannot go anywhere without being confronted by the fear and anxiety that this new strain of the flu is causing. It’s at work, the coffee shop, even at the pulpit, you can’t escape it.
And this panic has caused many to go crazy over — of all things —toilet paper. On Twitter is has been dubbed the #ToiletPaperApocalypse. Maybe people are thinking — we may die from this menace, but at least we will have a closet full of toilet paper to leave our family.
Some people are running around like Chicken Little claiming that the world is going to come to an end. All of this hysteria in the United States that, as of Sunday, March 15 had 2,952 reported COVID-19 cases with 57 confirmed fatalities.
In case you didn’t know it the population of the U.S. is 329 million. Do the math. That means 0.000667% of the population is currently infected. Let’s say it’s wrong and the correct number is 10 times that amount. Now we should worry because 0.00667% of the population is infected — not.
Sorry, I’m not letting this scare me. I think it is being blown way out of proportion. The rate of fatalities for COVID-19 is currently at 2.3%. In my age group — 60 to 69 years — the chance of dying is 3.6% if you contract the disease. But when you look at the death rate for someone with no preexisting conditions for all age groups it drops to 0.9%.
I could maybe understand all this hysteria if we had not been through this before. There has been SARS and the MERS and of course the swine-flu pandemic.
This swine-flu first appeared March of 2009 in California shortly after the inauguration of President Barrack Obama. The virus had arrived in the U.S. after starting in Mexico.
By the end of May, that year citizens in all 50 states had been infected. On June 25, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released information revealing that there were probably over 1 million cases of the disease in the U.S.
It was just three weeks before the death total in the U.S. had reached 4,000 — Nov. 15 — when President Obama declared the swine-flu a national emergency.
As of mid-March 2010, the U.S. CDC estimated that 59 million Americans contracted the H1N1 virus, 265,000 were hospitalized as a result, and over 12,000 died with up to 1,800 of them children.
So far there are only 156,400 people infected with COVID-19 and that is worldwide.
A study in 2013, as reported on livescience.com, concluded that the swine-flu pandemic of 2009 may have killed up to 203,000 people worldwide.
Yet most people don’t even remember it. They don’t remember it because it was not reported daily, and hourly in the national media. And there was not a run on anything let alone toilet paper.
Stopping all the national sporting events and closing colleges and schools will most likely turn out to be what helped to stop the spread of this flue.
For now, I’m not letting this new strain of flu scare me or affect my actions.
Call me crazy but this weekend Connie and I are going to spend a few days in Bloomington, Ill. at a airbnb with all our children, their spouses and Abby’s significant other.
Connie and I will be leaving the relative safety of Missouri — where we have five confirmed cases — to risk our lives in the land of Lincoln where they have a total of 64 cases. In addition to that Ethan, Hillary, Abby and Alex will be joining us from Madison, Wisc.
Not only does Wisconsin have 27 confirmed cases but an employee at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where Hillary and Abby are doctoral students, has the dreaded disease.
Connie and I mentioned to our kids that we may stop in St. Louis on the way to Bloomington to pick up some supplies and we were met with a resounding no from the Wisconsin clan. Turns out St. Louis may be a big breeding ground for the coronavirus.
I guess while we are in Bloomington we will stay inside on a self-imposed quarantine. Not to protect the residents of Illinois from us, but visa versa.
Maybe we should take along surgical gloves to protect ourselves on bathroom breaks and refueling stops for the drive.
Pray for us.