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  • Writer's pictureFred

National Emergency: Day 291

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

This was a screen shot from March 13, 2020.

Now once Ohio pulled the plug on the schools, you knew that soon we'd all be circling the drain. Hindsight is 20/20, you say? We were talking about hundreds of thousands of people dying of Covid in February.

I knew what Amy Acton knew. If initial reports from China were that the coronavirus killed at a 2% clip, A worst case scenario for Ohio would be 200,000 dead in the state. That is assuming that everyone got the virus and there was no social distancing.

How could we predict the future? Were we witches? No. Science, statistics, and history.

If you knew a rough death rate from China and extrapolated that across populations, you could make some vague estimates. If you could delay the spread of the virus until science could catch up, you could limit, and lower, death rates, because you could figure out what worked and what didn't work.

Then, using the Spanish Flu model of 1918-1919, there are some similarities. If that model holds true, the Covid-19 outbreak should start to peter out in the summer of 2021. And, again, those are rough estimates, it is hard to be exact in real time. But with a million doses of the vaccine given out this week alone, using a war analogy, the coronavirus vaccine is the equivalent of the Americans storming Normandy, now there is a hope for victory, the war is just about half over.

What has surprised me with this outbreak is the politicization of the flu. But in hindsight, if I did my homework, that shouldn't have surprised me either.

These are some headlines from the Spanish Flu.

Every day there's been an excuse for some people not to follow stay at home orders. Right from the start, crowds gathered in nearly every American city because Social Justice was too important to ignore, Tesla decided making cars drove the economy, statues had to come down, etc., it seemed that every group had their own reason not to stay at home.

And Donald Trump has done a terrible job in leading America. Why? Because Trump's Plan was that we have no plan. What America needed was a Federal level, war-time response and what we got was a lesson in State's Rights. In Donald Trump's defense, though, even European countries that have done everything "right" have still had trouble containing the virus.

Even if Donald Trump came out and said "we are going to let this virus burn through this country, 99% of you will live!" At least states could have prepared for that. And even though he didn't say it to the American public, hospital administrators should have read the tea leaves. Medical administrators have known about the virus for nearly a year now. No one wanted a pandemic level war response, including the hospitals. Hospitals that are now being overrun in major population centers in California and Texas, what have you been doing for the past year?

Back in the first wave, I felt terrible for New York, they had no time. This wave? What did you expect when they re-opened schools? And I'm not saying that re-opening schools was necessarily the wrong decision, what I'm saying is that at that time, another wave of the pandemic was certainly plausible.

Part of the reason that Trump was defeated in November is that when you stand for nothing, populism doesn't work. Why? Because when you are faced with a series of unpopular virus-related options, doing nothing is still technically a choice. (If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.) Populism is a fickle mistress.

But the point of my article was not to drone on about Mr. Trump. I want to talk about the virus and my immediate universe. My cousin died of Covid, but more relatives died of cancer this year. At work, multiple people got Covid, they're all back at work. Sister and brother-in-law got Covid, they're back at work. Neighbor believed that the virus was fake news, he ended up dying from complications of Guillain-Barre Syndrome that stemmed from the REGULAR flu shot. If the nation's mortality rate ends up being 1%, that means 1 out of every 100 people who gets the virus will die. So far I've known around 20 people who've had it, as confirmed by a positive test, 1 death.

Probably the most stressful story was the antidote related to me by my wife about her boss at the hospital. Her boss contracted Covid and was on death's door. One night, she had severe flu symptoms and couldn't breathe, so she made the conscious decision that she'd rather die in her bed than on a ventilator at work. To her surprise, she woke up the next day, and even though she still felt like shit, she could at least catch her breath. 2 weeks later, back at work.

Me? I have lung scarring. Is it post-Covid? Doctor says he doesn't know, getting tested for antibodies in a few days. I haven't felt normal in a while. My wife and I have been in quarantine multiple times and we both have had multiple negative tests. We haven't missed work except for quarantine days. Is our life radically different than last year? Yes, at her hospital and my school district, it is, but we are both lucky to have jobs.

But there also is a darkness and heaviness that has set over the holidays. No big gatherings. No joy. Just a simple gratitude that things could be worse. A lot of people in our orbit do have it a lot worse. Why did I mention my neighbor's Guillian-Barre? Because about a decade ago, I had Guillian-Barre Syndrome stemming from a sinus infection. When the coronavirus vaccine comes, I may be unable to receive it because I can't get flu shots. What is the risk between Guillian-Barre and the Pfizer vaccine? Unknown.

When will we return to normal? Some people say 2024, some people say never, but using history as a guide, probably, hopefully, late 2021. The aftershocks of the pandemic will linger for a generation.

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