Viruses are very efficient at math.
“The Mother of All Pandemics”: Spanish Flu of 1918 Versus COVID-19 of 2020
The severity of the COVID-19 crisis has left the U.S society on pause, but when things start to open back up, that will not be the end of the virus. The Spanish Flu that hit the U.S in 1918 demonstrates to us that life will not be returning to normal within the rest of this year.
In a recent article published by the Coloradoan, the first Spanish Flu case was reported in the Spring of 1918 and consisted of mild flu symptoms. Then after taking a break in the Summer, in the Fall the virus came roaring with more severe symptoms.
“They did everything they were supposed to do, and the numbers would drop and then they'd get a little optimistic and go out and the numbers would rise again.” Susan Riding, a historic tour guide in Fort Collins explained. (1)
We’ve written about the 1918 pandemic in our article "COVID Courage from St. Louis, The Math of Hope" on April 2. In essence, all we are trying to accomplish with the stay at home order is to slow the infection rate, giving the medical community time to get supplied up and not be overwhelmed.
What is important to understand is viruses are very efficient at math and it will eventually spread everywhere.
Just like Fort Collins in 1918-1919, for roughly six months, people lived with the quarantines and closures being put in place, lifted, and then reinstated.
By late September 1918, the state assured the residents of Northern Colorado that they had the disease under control, but the following day Colorado Agricultural College (now Colorado State University), reported over 30 cases, and two days later the number tripled to 94 (1).
When the COVID-19 Stay at Home order is lifted, we will see more spikes and, most likely in the Fall or Winter, we will live through another Stay at Home order. I don’t believe a vaccine will be here in time to make a difference for the Spring, hopefully, it will be here by the second wave in the Winter. My faith is our medical researchers will find a drug to cure the symptoms and solve the lethality of this virus.
But life has to go on.
The straight-up math of this is the only way past this is for everyone to get exposed and to try to mitigate the fatalities, which in contrast to 1918 – we have great medical!
Recent protests have erupted in Michigan, North Carolina, and Ohio because Governors have been scorned for taking away citizens freedoms, many questions have been raised about how far is too far? Two federal lawsuits have been filed against the Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer as citizens arguing that “Whitmer’s order shutting businesses and banning all non-essential travel violates people’s right to freely associate with one another and said they are in favor of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines on limiting crowd sizes.”(2)
At some point, will the crowd mentality of being done with losing income, livelihood, businesses, and freedom overpower the obedience of staying at home?
What could law enforcement do should everyone start going about their lives? Arrest everyone? Where would they detain them? Of course, the citizens of this nation should have a vote in what risks we are willing to accept. But we should have the responsibility to social distance when out and about. Personally, I would love to see a world where we never go back to shaking hands! It’s unsanitary especially in large venues such as when churchgoers are encouraged to shake other’s hands during a meet and greet.
In response to the crisis, President Trump released his phase plan, “Opening Up America Again” country on April 16. The plan consists of a set of guidelines that must be met to then activate the three-step plan. The governors of each state are responsible for implementing this plan and the federal government cannot force them to take action.
Once the governors activate Phase One, employees may return to work, gyms and non-essential travel may open back up, but everyone must still adhere to social distancing. Phase Two consists of opening schools, restaurants and bars may open, but adhere to a limited minimum occupancy. Phase Three will activate a return to “normal”, but there is still no clarity as to how long it will be before any state gets to this phase (3).
Trump’s “Opening Up America Again” released a responsible and simple agenda on how to get this nation back on track. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully, it will come soon.
I’m here for each and every one of you if you want to chat.