STERNBERG: A Pearl Harbor Moment, Plus


A Pearl Harbor

Moment, Plus


Two weeks ago, Surgeon General Jerome Adams made comments that last week would be a Pearl Harbor moment in the battle against COVID-19. Others picked up on the statement. I believe the President used that phrase at one point in a press conference. Others are calling this a 9/11 moment.

Richard Sternberg, a retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, has agreed to provide his professional perspective while the coronavirus threat continues. Dr. Sternberg, who is also a village trustee, resides in Cooperstown.

This is nothing of the sort and is probably an insult to Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, was a highly dishonorable way of declaring war against the United States by the Imperial Japanese Empire; 2,403 people died in it, mostly sailors, but also soldiers and marines, and some civilians.

On 9/11, 2,977 people, mostly American citizens, including 343 members of the New York City Fire Department, 71 metropolitan area law enforcement officers, one officer in Pennsylvania, and 55 military personnel were murdered.

Those who have died of what has been deemed to be 9/11-induced illnesses is probably greater than 3,000 considering first responders, clean-up crews and people who lived in the area. Let’s say 6,000 fatalities in total.

As of April 12, 2020, 20,488 people, up approximately 2,000 from the day before, have died of documented COVID-19 in the U.S., which is more than twice the combination of Pearl Harbor and 9/11 together.

There have been additional deaths well above the statistical averages not listed as COVID-19 but which highly probably are. Documented new deaths per day from COVID-19 are fast approaching the total at Pearl Harbor.arbor.Harbor.

The rate of the increase of deaths in New York State has leveled off but the rate of increase elsewhere in the U.S continues to rise.

Pearl Harbor and 9/11 are singular moments in the history of the United States and of the heroism of its military and municipal services. They were moments of national resolve but they were moments.

COVID-19 is a relentless killer that will continue worldwide unless a way to either cure it or prevent it is found. It wears us down.

The worldwide death toll could easily exceed millions unless vigilance is maintained. While it is an infectious disease on an individual basis, on a global level it is like a cancer, metastasizing everywhere and overwhelming the host, that is the population of the entire world.

Trivializing it as a moment, however monumental that moment is, does not prepare people for the continued fight ahead and gives them the false sense that if only we make it past one specific day everything will be well.

As terrible as Pearl Harbor and 9/11 were, the surgeon general using that analogy does disservice to those events and actually gives a false sense of security that the pandemic is less devastating than it is and it is abating.

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