State of Emergency: COVID-19

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Thank you East Hampton Star, for running the historical piece “Then and Now” on March 12th:

“Dr. David Edwards, the town health officer in 1918, reported six cases of influenza in early October. A week later there were 35 cases, and the Neighborhood House on Three Mile Harbor Road was turned into a temporary hospital. Dr. Edwards ordered the village movie theater closed that week as well. The next week, there were 125 cases….Edward O. Lester, 25, appears to have been the first East Hamptoner to die of influenza…  Many of the dead were young, like Mr. Lester. ”

COVID-19 has been likened to the Spanish Flu of 1918, and it is much more serious than our annual seasonal flu.

“Covid-19 is not the flu. It’s worse,” writes Brian Resnick in VOX.  Propublica agrees:  This Coronavirus Is Unlike Anything in Our Lifetime, and We Have to Stop Comparing It to the Flu”

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Comparisons with the Spanish Flu of 1918 are discussed here.  While the mortality rates may be similar there are important differences:  According to National Geographic, Spanish flu killed with deadly speed, with many reports of people who woke up sick, then died on their way to work.

But perhaps the most important difference between the two viral diseases comes down to historical timing. The Spanish flu pandemic coincided with World War I, which helped the disease quickly spread along with mobilized troops from place to place. In contrast, many nations have enacted travel restrictions to areas high in coronavirus COVID-19 infections with the purpose of preventing quick spread.

I decided to watch 2 videos.

1. A 40 min video on the 1918 Flu pandemic (Spanish Flu).  It is a reminder of a) how scary a pandemic can be, b) what strict containment measures can achieve, c) how leaders that do not follow public health advice get us into trouble.  NB: President Wilson got infected by the Spanish Flu and was quite ill.

2. A 45 min Youtube Australian video on the earliest phases of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China.  It is a scary reminder of what may lie ahead for all of us.  Seen through the eyes of Australian families stuck in Wuhan since the very beginning of the outbreak.

I know these are long videos, but you probably have plenty of time and are stuck at home.   East Hampton has declared a state of emergency. Suffolk County has too.  You might want to understand why!

About D. Posnett MD

Emeritus Prof. of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College
This entry was posted in Coronavirus, Health Care, Trump, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to State of Emergency: COVID-19

  1. John Hooker says:

    The good about this film: it shows that containment should be taken seriously, although it should not be enforced the same way, of course. The urgency, therefore, is to get people to understand that containment is crucial to save lives.
    The bad: it is not up to date, simply because the situation evolves daily, if not hourly. The take-away should not just be an indictment of China, but a recognition that wasting time in failing to contain the virus will increase the number of deaths and overwhelm those in charge of detection and treatment of the disease. No health care structure of any country is prepared for this.
    All said, if this urges people to follow rules of containment, then we will be well served by this film. If, on the other hand, the takeaway is that “it could not happen here” and we become complacent, it will have disseminated the wrong message.

  2. Tina Plesset says:

    Thanks David. This is excellent! While you were busy being productive last night after we spoke I watched an inane comedy series recommended by many people – Schitts Creek. Next I’ll watch these videos. I appreciate your sharing. -Tina

    Tina Plesset 914.980.0035


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