Tuesday, February 25, 2020

We'll Know By Summer

“How were you affected by the 1918 Swine Flu epidemic?”

After returning to the classroom in 1979 to teach history, one of the first assignments I gave was for students to find someone 70 years old or older and ask a series of questions. Interview subjects would have been born in 1909 or earlier and, if they lived in New England, would almost certainly have known people who died in that plague. Its American epicenter was Fort Devens in central Massachusetts.

It was called "Camp Devens" then.
About 850 soldiers died there in 1918 after it spread from Commonwealth Pier in Boston where the first recorded outbreak seems to have occurred according to the New England Historical Society. The American version of the epidemic eventually killed 675,000 Americans and perhaps 100 million worldwide. Even more surprising was that the most vulnerable demographic was young adults — about 10% died globally.

The 1918 virus seems to have been the worst plague in history.

In last week’s column "Between Now and November" on the presidential campaign I added a paragraph at the end about what might threaten President Trump’s biggest advantage — our strong economy. I suggested the Corona Virus, now called Covid19, might be that threat. After only a week, it’s virtually certain. At this writing (Monday midday), the stock market and bond market are both crashing. Traveling in India, President Trump claimed the virus is a short-term problem that won’t have a lasting effect on the world economy. “I think it’s a problem that’s going to go away,” he said — this according to zerohedge.com which has become my go-to site on the virus.

Trump has said a lot of stupid things, but I believe that statement will come back to haunt him.

Epidemiologists have more questions than answers about this newest plague and that’s because China, where it originated, is a closed society with a government which controls information. It’s lying about what has been going on. Did Covid19 originate when Chinese gourmets ate bat soup as some suggest? Or, did it escape from a bioweapons lab in Wuhan as others suggest? We don’t know.

People exposed to the virus have been quarantined for 14 days to see if they show symptoms, but reports the past few days indicate that quarantine should be extended because some victims have gone 27 days before symptoms manifest. Can the virus be contained? Doubts are rising as fast as the virus is spreading — at lightening speed. Today (Monday mid afternoon) the World Health Organization is announcing that the virus is not yet pandemic — but we all kind of know it is, right? Said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today: “Does this virus have pandemic potential? Absolutely. Are we there yet? From our assessment not yet.”

South Korean at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
How soon will it affect us here in America? Yesterday I read a report that South Korean Catholics who were visiting crowded holy sites in Israel returned home and tested positive for the virus. Israel then announced it would ban South Korean tourists. I texted the article to my sister and brother-in-law who were on tour visiting those crowded holy sites in Israel and they hadn’t heard anything about it. Then I waited to hear if they were allowed to board their flight from Tel Aviv to Newark, NJ. They told me tourists with whom they were traveling were going on to Jordan and were subjected to health checks at the border. This morning I learned they landed in Newark and were awaiting a flight to Boston.

Yeah, it’s affecting us here and it’s only the beginning.

China’s economy is tanking. Car sales have dropped 92% for February. As of February 13, China has virtually stopped importing crude oil. Tankers are backed up offshore. Since China makes so many products we buy including iPhones, we’re bound to be strongly affected here in America. The supply chain of vital components for products manufactured here in the USA will be slowing down and cut off as well. Japan may cancel the Olympics scheduled this summer. The Epoch Times this morning (Tuesday) quoted Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley:“80 percent of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients are produced abroad, the majority in China and India.”

We know, even if Trump doesn’t, there will be economic turmoil worldwide, but we don’t know yet how many of us will die. We in the USA and Europe are better equipped to treat people than third-world countries in Africa so our survivability rate is likely to be better. It seems that a percentage of those who become infected will die, but what is that percentage? We just don’t know because the Chinese Communist Party controls the flow of vital information on Covid19 and spins it for its own political purposes.

Eventually I had to drop the Swine Flu question from the elderly interviews as those old enough to remember it died off. We can only hope Covid19 doesn’t kill as many of us as that plague did a century ago. It’s likely we will know by summer.


Kafir said...

The Dems are salivating that the coronavirus will replace the Russian collusion hoax as the smoking gun to prevent Trump from being re-elected. Not going to happen.

Brian said...

I can't speak for Dems, as I'm not one, but my feeling is that most of them feel like me. That this coronavirus has nothing to do with the election and the only concern is for people's health. Unlike Trump, who seems obsessed only with its effect on the stock market and therefore pretending that the whole thing is "under control". Yet another lie for the sake of how he is effected politically.

So cute how people parrot back Trump's mantra words, like "hoax".

Kafir said...

Should I have used “witch hunt” instead? We’re now up to pandemic levels of Americans with the coronavirus, 53.

Since facts are conveniently ignored by you Leftists, it’s better to just make fun of them. Are you familiar with the website “Intellectual Froglegs”? https://intellectualfroglegs.com/ Give it a try. Many hilarious episodes are available.

Anonymous said...

Good job Tom

Brian said...

Yeah, please use "witch hunt" it's even more funny than "hoax"!

Tell me one fact I made fun of.

Are you familiar with "The Liberal Redneck". Many hilarious clips!


Kafir said...

Let’s put all our faith in the corrupt WHO. Time to defund it and the UN.

Theodore Sirois said...

This opportunity isn't lost on the Democrats. "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama's chief of staff once said.

Tom McLaughlin said...

“You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time," said Donald Rumsfeld.

Right now, we have The WHO, the CDC, other organizations around the world, as well as at the state and local levels here. I hope President Trump is right about the possibility of virus fading away this spring but we have to prepare for the worst case scenario and use the army we have.

When politicians of any stripe exploit this crisis for their advantage, let's hope ordinary Americans recognize it and punish them in the voting booth.

Reality Check said...

Fact checking says:

Part of what Emanuel said frequently has been cited by conservatives to show that the left supposedly wants to exploit circumstances to ram its agenda through. That Emanuel quote is: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."

In context, though, Emanuel wasn't talking about partisan gain or advancing any particular "agenda," as Paul claimed. Emanuel specifically urged addressing longstanding problems with "ideas from both parties" when a crisis presents the opportunity. He used the energy crisis of the 1970s as an example of an opportunity lost.

I would go on to say that Republicans never want a chance to twist and spin a fact go to waste.

Reality Check said...

Tom, if Obama spun a similar crisis the way Trump is doing now (pretending all is good), you would rip him a new one for basing his reactions on political considerations. Let's hope Americans recognize this and punish him in the voting booth.

Brian said...

Did I really hear this right? Did the Orange Buffoon really just call the coronavirus a "hoax" by the democrats? Will he call scientific attempts to curtail the virus a "witch hunt"? It is surreal how insane this man is. For the life of me I can not figure out how this outbreak has anything at all to do with politics. How could any of this be Trump's fault? Has anybody tried to claim it is? What is going on?

CaptDMO said...

No Brian, you are repeating entirely false crap again.
Although I have no doubts that you can find a hyper-link to SOMEBODY
"reporting" that that SOMEBODY said that.

Brian said...

Trump: "this is their new hoax"

Here is your hyper-link to SOMEBODY named Trump saying that:


Then when Pompeo was directly asked if he thought it was a hoax he sidestepped the question.


Brian said...

I'm waiting for an apology and an admission that it is actually Trump that is spewing entirely false crap...

Brian said...

Oh yeah, it's not the Trumpian way to apologize. I bet you'll also see no apology for the buffoon's irresponsible false crap of a statement that “We’re very close to a vaccine.”

This is not a good time to be spreading lies and confusion about public health. Dealing with a US outbreak is going to require ample medical resources, robust communication, and, most importantly, the public trust. Instead, Trump has minimized the threat and spread misinformation.

Unknown said...

Mr. Mclaughlin,

In your article of “How bad will it get?” stated “No one doubts the virus originated in China but it’s given different names…” With all due respect, I think it is a redneck statement. How do you know “No one doubts….”? Yes, China first reported/announced that virus occurred in Wuhan but not one scientist from anywhere in the world has proven the virus was originated in China. In fact, the Drudge Report published an article titled “Coronavirus could have spread among humans for years or even decades”. The article was published in Daily Star. A few people including Mr. Bill Gate predicated in 2015 this kind of virus and epidemic could happen anytime and anywhere. Further, China hosted Military World Games from 18-27 October 2019 in Wuhan. Over 100 countries including U.S. military people attended the event. The question of where the virus originated must be answered by scientific research and it is not resolved by someone jumping to conclusions. I am not interested in further discussion but the truth should be told.