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Although the "racist"-sounding “Wuhan virus” is now labeled as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, in America the real pandemic, more accurately described as pandemonium, is at the local supermarkets where store shelves resemble those in Venezuela.
America is in the grips of a panic the likes of which we haven’t seen before. What exactly is a pandemic, other than a scary sounding word from science fiction movies? According to WHO, “Pandemic refers to an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.”
Per the Johns Hopkins dashboard, at the time of this writing, there are 147,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus spanning the globe, with 5500 deaths and 72.000 recoveries. Cases in China have leveled off over the past several weeks, suggesting that we in the U.S. may see the same over the upcoming weeks to months.
Wuhan virus is not the first viral pandemic America has had to contend with. The last one was the H1N1 virus from 2009. How did America react to that last pandemic 10 years ago? Does anyone have more than a vague recollection of H1N1, also known as swine flu? No one will forget this current panic, but most have forgotten H1N1.
During the swine flu pandemic, were there mass cancellations of events including conferences, concerts, sporting events, and entire professional sports leagues? Did colleges cancel classes, finishing the remainder of their semesters online? Were travel restrictions imposed between America and Europe? Were panicked Americans hoarding everything from toilet paper to pasta?
If these things happened during the swine flu pandemic, I certainly have no recollection. In 2009, congressional Democrat leaders weren’t criticizing the president, instead they were trying to force through a government takeover of healthcare, known as ObamaCare. Criticizing its namesake wasn’t in the media’s playbook and they all but ignored the swine flu.
What a difference a decade and a president makes.
One might think the H1N1 virus pandemic was relatively mild since life proceeded as usual for most Americans, rather than the zombie apocalypse we are now living through. H1N1 was also referred to as the swine flu without objections from animal rights groups. In 2009, a name was just a name, labeling a virus based on its origin.
According to the CDC, “This virus was originally referred to as swine flu because laboratory testing showed that its gene segments were similar to influenza viruses that were most recently identified in and known to circulate among pigs.”
The name “swine flu” was accepted without objection in 2009 but today the name “Wuhan virus” or “Chinese coronavirus” is deemed racist. The only difference between the two virus names is who occupies the White House.
What about a comparison of the number of cases and deaths between the two viral pandemics? With all the hysteria over coronavirus compared to swine flu, the current outbreak must be far worse, right?
As of this writing, there are 63 deaths in the U.S. due to coronavirus, 40 of which are in Washington State. The vast majority of the Washington deaths involved patients at a skilled nursing facility in Kirkland, elderly and with underlying medical problems.
Overall, the coronavirus is quite selective as to whom it kills. From the New York Times: “Among the people in the United States who have died from coronavirus, almost all have been in their 70s, 80s or 90s. The youngest known fatality was a man in his 40s.” Unlike other viral epidemics, coronavirus is not killing the young and healthy.