Johnny on the Spot
The attention-getter with the media these days is the coronavirus, or COVID-19 as the Centers for Disease Control would refer to it.
This is not the first coronavirus menace to us.
There was one in 2012 called the Middle East respirator syndrome that claimed less than one-thousand lives worldwide.
Flu viruses mutate frequently which means this one may resurface even after we find a way to control it.
And, with 11 billion of us expected to call the Earth home by the year 2100, emerging viruses and more drug-resistant bacteria will challenge the medical world as long as we live here.
Based on today’s media coverage, one might believe this coronavirus issue is unprecedented in human history.
But at former Indiana University football coach Lee Corso might say, “Not so fast my friend!”
The Black Death (1331-1353) claimed upwards of 200 million lives, perhaps as high as 60% of the European population.
From 1918-1920, the Spanish flu killed up to 100 million folks around the world, and over 675 thousand in the U.S. Influenza and pneumonia killed more American soldiers that battle did.
Another plague, the Plague of Justinian, took up to 40% of the world’s population, or maybe as many as 50 million humans in 541-542 A.D.
The New England Epidemic of 1616-1619 (yellow fever, bubonic plague, influenza, small pox, chicken pox, typhus and hepatitis) wiped out more than 30% of the folks in southern New England and nearly all of the Wampanoag people.
More recently, in 1957-1958, the Asian flu took the lives of 2 million and about 70,000 of those were Americans.
The Hong Kong flu in 1968 to 1969 claimed a million victims worldwide.
Another worldwide flu pandemic in 2009 took over 200,000 lives.
Anyone remember the Swine flu?
How about the Zika virus?
SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome?
Ebola? From 2013-2016, it claimed over 11,000 lives in West Africa.
In 2019, measles…yep, measles killed 6,000 in the Congo.
HIV/AIDS, since the 80’s has caused 340 million deaths.
My point is, these health issues are going to crop up because there are just more of us everywhere on this planet.
And, I suspect, some of those folks don’t properly wash their hands or cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing.
It’s just a hunch I have.
We live on a giant petri dish.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says worldwide epidemics every year result in 3-5 million cases of severe illness, resulting in as many as a half-million deaths.
Historically speaking, in terms of sheer numbers, this coronavirus issue is fairly small potatoes.
It seems to me that so far, the “hype” surpasses the “threat”.
That’s why I find the media attention a bit perplexing.
Why not a focus on the fact that over 85,000 Americans die every year because of diabetes?
Any idea how many American lives are lost annually to heart disease?
Would you believe nearly 650 thousand?
Cancer claims over 600 thousand lives a year.
So is the attention due to the fact that COVID-19 is the new kid on the block?
Diabetes? Heart disease? Cancer?
That’s old news, right?
How many people have succumbed to the coronavirus in America so far?
It will take a while before it catches the 100 Americans who die each day in traffic crashes.
Air crashes and storms get a lot of media attention and yet plane mishaps, on average take about 500 lives a year while storms (in 2018) killed 782 people.
Time for a trivia quiz.
What’s the #1 weather killer?
Number 2 on the hit list?
Floods and flooding.
Maybe that’s why we shouldn’t drive around those road barricades blocking our route to work.
My point is, if the media is hammering us every minute of every day about the coronavirus, thank God we didn’t have CNN or MSNBC during the Spanish Flu outbreak of the early 20th century.
A couple of my thoughts.
Some of this coverage can be blamed on 24 hour news outlets.
I’ve said before, just because it’s “new” doesn’t make it news.
These round-the-clock news entities have ravenous appetites and they’re always looking for a “hook” to snag viewers or listeners.
Items that might have been overlooked or mentioned briefly and dropped years ago, get “cooked” under those bright lights and discussed, ad nauseam these days.
The coverage is almost frantic.
It’s as if someone purposely wants us to curl up in a ball and whimper.
I’m thinking it might help if we all at a little more dirt.
It would get our body defenses up.
Remember, the Food and Drug Administration allows up to 11 rat hairs in every 50 grams of cinnamon.
The FDA also permits up to 3 milligrams of rat poop in every pound of ginger or up to 225 insect fragments per 22 grams of macaroni.
I get that.
But are some of the actions we’re hearing about match the real threat?
You can’t fight a ghost.
It almost seems to be “socially cool” today to cancel events due to the real or implied threat of COVID-19.
Seems to me, we should have been canceling these events long ago because statistics indicate about 10 of us could die any given day while driving to them.
That’s a verifiable statistical risk.
Maybe we should get the Air National Guard to air drop Lysol, much like when they fight forest fires.
It might be useless but the action could ease the anxiety pangs of the slobbering throngs who have nothing better to do than worry.
Until I hear otherwise, I’ll keep washing my hands and sneezing into my elbow until the media zeroes in on the next malady.
There’ll be another one.
Probably sooner that later.
However, I am troubled just a bit with the concept that somebody is hoping to benefit from this “crisis”.
And, that raises the questions, “Who and why?”
Sounds like a job for one of the “CSI” shows on t-v.
Some of those reruns would be more entertaining than the hang-wringing network news reporters I’ve witnesses recently.