We need to ask ourselves questions, as more people resign themselves to the fact the COVID-19 pandemic just ain’t going away anytime soon.
Firstly, if it’s hard to find answers in the middle of a major outbreak of disease, well … welcome to the history of disease.
As we have progressed to a modern society, with vastly more resources and knowledge than our forbears just a century ago, we want answers — and we want them now.
We turn on a light switch and we expect light. We turn on ESPN and expect to see our favorite team on the tube.
We connect to the internet and expect instant gratification on a favorite app or researching something like this column.
No delays, we want it now.
COVID-19 has placed the brakes on our society, and many can’t deal with it — deal with a change in how we go about our everyday lives.
Some blow off masks as protection or don’t comply with social distancing. Governments from local, state and national levels seem to flounder in the face of this new, novel disease.
And there is the rub.
It’s not called the novel coronavirus for nothing. We are in the middle of finding out how to deal with it, how to combat it, how to keep our hospital emergency rooms and ICUs from being deluged with patients. And it’s ever updating.
Just run-of-the mill things like traffic accident trauma, or kidney and heart transplants and bypass surgeries are sometimes cast into holding patterns as COVID-19 has creeped into every corner of America.
As the cold numbers keep coming in, the virus is hitting rural America hard, just as it did in places like Houston, New York City and Los Angeles. Nobody — including the president of the United States — is immune.
So, how did peoples from our history past deal with major disease outbreaks? In just about every case I’ve found, they didn’t deal with it well either, and they had vastly fewer resources than we do today. Americans didn’t do well in the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic that swept the U.S. — swept the world.
When we don’t know something — when experts don’t know something — some tend to panic and just make things up out of whole cloth. Go on the internet and see just how many conspiracies there are out there as to why there is COVID-19, including outright denials as to whether it even exists.
I’m sure sociologists and psychiatrists will have a field day in the future, addressing what we are going through with today’s latest pandemic.
Basically, every generation of humans has dealt with disease and somehow, humans have continued to repopulate this old world. Don’t you think the Black Death of the Middle Ages cast a pall on mankind? They didn’t know how to combat bubonic plague in the mid-1300s, and it’s estimated up to 200 million died in Europe and Asia.
Historians will never know exactly how many, because people died so quickly and in such great numbers that they ran out of places to bury them.
They didn’t know that rats carried fleas that carried plague, and hygiene and sanitation were not hallmarks of our ancestors at that time in history. They had no way of knowing at that time to clean things up, get rid of rats and they would be rid of the plague.
Sounds simple to us, doesn’t it — in hindsight. Take a bath. Don’t throw thrash or human waste out into the street or into streams, creeks and rivers.
Seems logical to us today — in hindsight.
How about in 1918, on these shores, as Spanish flu ravaged American cities and towns, spread in large part by World War I and having men in military training camps and trenches crammed together, and spreading the flu like wildfire? It was insidious because it struck the most healthy among us.
We didn’t know there would be three waves of the flu, as the war ended in 1918, at least partly because so many troops became ill with the disease, it didn’t seem practical at the time to continue a conflict that had stagnated into nothing more than killing men for yards of meaningless earth.
Troops came home from the war, spread the disease when they hugged their loved ones on Armistice Day, and another pandemic wave spread until 600,000 Americans had died from “blue flu.”
They resisted wearing masks and shutting down churches and schools to help stop the spread of the disease. Eventually, the flu died out as it mutated, killing 600,000 Americans.
History will look back and I’m certain ask, “Why didn’t Americans in 2020 do the easiest of things and all wear masks and socially distance themselves to stop COVID-19?”
Guess we too will just have to learn the hard way — 223,045 deaths, over 8 million cases in the U.S. as of this writing and climbing.