It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. These days we have thousands of words — often contradictory — about The Pandemic. A few pictures might help. Pictured above is Jimi Hendrix at the Woodstock Music Festival August 1969. The Hong Kong Flu 1968 – 1969 raged on as life went on.
The Coronavirus Disease 2019, commonly known as COVID-19, was first noted December 2019. As of September 2, 2020, estimates indicate 25.7 million inflections and 857,000 deaths worldwide. The virus responsible for COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2), the newest in a large family of coronaviruses.
COVID-19 is indeed a pandemic. Pandemics, regardless of severity, spread quickly worldwide, as opposed to epidemics which are more local (think Ebola). But is COVID-19 “unprecedented?”
Here is a picture of some of the worst worldwide influenza pandemics. The Asian Flu lasted about one year (February 1957 to around March 1958), and killed 1.5 to 2 million people. The Hong Kong Flu also lasted around one year, and killed 1 million people.
The next picture includes characteristics like how fast a virus spreads and severity of symptoms. COVID-19 spreads easier than other similar viruses, but proportion with mild illness is high.
Or Unprecedented Overreaction With Devastating Results?
Past pandemics did not see the widespread lockdown we are experiencing with COVID-19. Therefore, past pandemics did not see the unprecedented economic meltdown we are experiencing today. Measured by GDP, the 2008 U.S. Great Recession pales in comparison. Here is a picture from Tradingeconomics.com
As of August 2020, numerous U.S. companies filed for bankruptcy protection amid lockdowns, including big brands such as Brooks Brothers, Cirque du Soleil, and Neiman Marcus. How many Mom & Pop stores that tend to hire lower-income folks have closed is hard to say.
An event that characterized the 1960s was the Woodstock Music Festival. An audience of about 400,000 gathered on a dairy farm in New York state August 15-18, 1969, to watch music notables of the time like Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix.
Although “fact checkers” like Reuters went out of their way to explain why it is “misleading” to say Woodstock took place in the middle of the Hong Kong Flu pandemic — the event was between waves of the flu — the fact remains that Woodstock was in 1969, and the Hong Kong Flu pandemic was in 1968-1969.
Life is Making Choices
The 1960s were the days of fighting the establishment. Those were the days when young people demanded withdrawal of troops from Vietnam and troops were withdrawn. They were the days when women burned their bras in public, and rights were won. Individualism — otherwise known as “do your own thing” — reigned. In retrospect, Woodstock belonged in 1969.
Today we tow the line. We wear masks. We make our children wear masks. We are OK with going without medical checkups and teeth cleanings. We are OK with lockdowns that put our employers out of business and our families on public assistance. We do not fight back as the establishment dooms our children to sub-par education.
Life means choices.