Good Sunday morning, everyone! We are living in difficult times now, but we will get through this too. Too, I said! That’s because pandemics aren’t new. They have happened before, and they will happen again.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic started in Africa in the 1960s. By the early 1970s, it had silently arrived in the United States. Unlike typical pandemics that are airborne, AIDS is a bloodborne pandemic infection.
In an article my niece Emily, who is a nurse, shared on Facebook, the first cases of AIDS were in June of 1981 and it took more than two years to identify the virus (HIV) causing the disease. With COVID-19, the first cases of severe pneumonia were reported in China on Dec. 31, 2019, and by Jan. 7, 2020, the virus had already been identified.
As for AIDS, sexual education protocols have helped get a handle on this disease, but it remains an ongoing pandemic.
There have been several flu pandemics in the past. In 1968, the Hong Kong Flu pandemic known as H3N2, killed 34,000 in the U.S. The Asian Flu, known as H2N2, killed 70,000 in the United States in 1957.
The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) estimated 80,000 people died in the U.S. in 2018 from the flu. The highest death toll in 40 years. The typical amount of deaths in a years’ time is 36,000. Every year this happens. In 1918, a flu pandemic, which lasted two years, killed more than 500,000 Americans.
Deaths from the flu is not a new thing, as I stated earlier. But here are positive points that also came out of the article I referred to earlier about the COVID-19.
• There are 13 times more cured cases than deaths and that proportion is increasing.
• A test to detect the virus has been available since Jan. 13, 2020.
• There are already more than eight projects under way seeking a vaccine against the new coronavirus.
• Only 3 percent of cases occur in people under 20, and mortality under 40 is only 0.2 percent. Symptoms are so mild in children it can go unnoticed.
• The virus can be effectively inactivated from surfaces with a solution of ethanol (62-71 percent alcohol), hydrogen peroxide (0.5 percent hydrogen peroxide) or sodium hypochlorite (0.1 percent bleach), in just one minute. Frequent handwashing with soap and water is the most effective way to avoid contagion.
But like it or not what our government is doing, making the difficult but hated decisions, is saving lives. We do not want to be Italy. The choices, the medical staff, in Italy are having to make is not the place we want to get to. This is the time when we all must unite for the good of every person living in our community and others.
Keep in mind this quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt, “There is nothing to fear, but fear itself.”
Sherri M. Askren is president of United Way of Danville Area, Inc., 28 W. North St., Danville, IL 61832. Phone: 442-3512