BENNETT: This Is What ‘Worst’ May Look Like


This Is What ‘Worst’

May Look Like

By LARRY BENNETT • Special to

According to the CDC, from Oct. 1, 2019, through March 7, 2020, an estimated 20,000 to 50,000 Americans died from seasonal flu-related illnesses. That’s out of 36 million to 51 million total flu illnesses.

It appears that seasonal flu vaccines have mitigated the numbers, as have some people’s immunity, as well as having fully staffed and equipped medical facilities at the ready.

Larry Bennett, recently retired Brewery Ommegang creative director who is active in local causes, resides in East Merideth.

Larger numbers are attached to the corona virus. The CDC says between 160 million and 214 million people Americans may be infected, and the U.S. epidemic could last for months.

Using the CDC base, other experts say as many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die. Compared to seasonal flu, we have no vaccine, we are still short on tests, and it’s widely agreed we’ll run short of hospital facilities, equipment and medical staff.

While some say 200,000 to 1.7 million deaths is a worst-case scenario, no one can prove that.

In the Civil War, 620,000 Americans perished. Two thirds of the deaths were to disease and one of the biggest killers was “the ague,” which was almost certainly the flu but wasn’t yet called that.

WWI saw the deaths of 116,000 U.S. servicemen, and 63,000 of them died in the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. In fact, that epidemic was the single most lethal event in American history up to that time. According to the CDC, it was responsible for 675,000 total American deaths.

By comparison, WWII killed 418,000 Americans – military and civilian combined. The Korean War took 33,000 American lives. Vietnam claimed 58,000 American lives. In single event catastrophes, the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor took 2,403 American lives. The 9/11 terrorist attacks had 2,977 fatalities.

Back to today:

Researchers say the Coronavirus is as transmissible as the Spanish Flu, while a bit less physically severe. But
it’s also is higher in transmissibility and severity than any other flu virus since the Spanish Flu. This could become the single deadliest assault on Americans over 80 in our 243-year history.

That’s why preparedness for a worst-case scenario was so important. That’s what the CDC was for, before it was politicized by the Trump Administration. That’s what the White House pandemic response team was for, before it was fired by John Bolton in 2018.

As the Coronavirus spread around the world, the Trump Administration misrepresented its severity, stonewalled the facts, and stuck its head in the sand for two months. Trump himself was a fountain of misinformation about what was happening and, even worse, what could happen.

He hobbled the CDC early on, then classified CDC public health information. He talked about the virus being utterly unimportant. Finally, his recent public pronouncements acknowledging the danger felt so off-kilter that he seems to be speaking from some strange Twilight Zone dream state.

His mistakes and lies regarding the pandemic are endless. In the beginning they seemed to be about protecting the stock market and his re-electability. But they now seem different. They seem to be the mistakes of someone so far in over his head that he can only flail about, grasping for anything to hang onto to keep from drowning.

(Anyone with lifesaving training can tell that’s the most dangerous person to try to save, because he will mindlessly drown you in attempting to save himself.)

So here we are: our putative national leader, President Trump, failed to prepare for a worst-case health scenario. He then denied the facts about the pending disaster to prop up his own interests. He continued to deny facts pouring in from experts around the world. He finally acknowledged the crisis four to eight weeks too late to mount a strong offense against it. Instead, he left the entire nation playing defense because of his continuing ineptitude.

This may yet make Pearl Harbor, 9/11, and even WWII look like walks in the park. Make no mistake, many thousands of avoidable deaths will be directly attributable to Trump. More Americans may die unnecessarily on his watch than any other president.

Trump will again say, “I’m not responsible.” And that is so true.

One thought on “BENNETT: This Is What ‘Worst’ May Look Like

  1. byngh1

    This anti Trump rant is not helpful. There is plenty of fault to go around, including NYS and city government actions. What is need is solidarity instead of finger pointing.

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