Mike Makes Write: Keep Clam

On Wednesday, March 11, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus officially named COVID-19 a global pandemic, the first since the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.
On Friday, March 13, President Donald Trump designated COVID-19 a national emergency and on that same day Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who issued a state of emergency on Feb. 29, called for a statewide closure of schools.
So, here we are.
The seasonal influenza outbreaks that can be credited with taking many more lives than COVID-19 has so far, are fought with flu vaccines developed and available that, depending on how accurately health officials match the remedy to the strain, offer various degrees of immunity. There is no such option for COVID-19 as of this writing. Researchers predict it may be 18 months or longer before an approved vaccine is available.
While this is unknown territory for us it is most certainly not for our species, as a brief review of only the 10 worst pandemics of human history, disregarding the countless lesser ones, shows. We have survived worse.
    •    Plague of Justinian (bubonic) (541-542)        100 million deaths
    •    The Black Death (bubonic) (1346-1353)        50 million
    •    HIV/AIDS Pandemic (1980-present)        32 million
    •    Spanish Flu Pandemic (1918)            20 million
    •    Modern Plague (1894-1903)            10 million
    •    Antonine Plague (165 AD)            5 million
    •    Asian Flu (1956-1958)                                     2 million
    •    Sixth Cholera Pandemic (1899-1923)        1.5 million
    •    Hong Kong Flu Pandemic (1968)                  1 million
    •    Russian Flu Pandemic (1889-1890)        1 million
    •    Third Cholera Pandemic (1852–1860)        1 million

The appearance of a virulent flu strain in four of the above 10 pandemics makes a strong case for getting an annual flu vaccination.

If there is an upside to our present crisis, it is that this latest challenge serves as a refresher course in preparedness and a magnifier of loopholes in our response network. While the U.S. ranks highest among 195 countries surveyed by the Global Health Security Index with a score of 83.5 out of a perfect 100 for health security and related capabilities, it’s never good enough. The next nine countries ranked by score include:

2. United Kingdom
3. Netherlands
4. Australia
5. Canada
6. Thailand
7. Sweden
8, Denmark
9. South Korea
While March with its moderate weather did not come in like a lion this year it will be remembered as one in medical circles both locally and worldwide. The uncertainty of what lies ahead is troubling and measures being taken to prepare for what that might be are working a hardship on families and businesses alike. But as in many times past, the world will again be looking to the extraordinary American innovation and resiliency to lead the way out of the present crisis. So:
Be patient.
Shelter and entertain in place.
Practice clean habits.
Use common sense.
Communicate electronically.
Be proactive, not reactive.
Observe and learn.
Get the facts.
Demand the truth.
As Mr. Rogers would counsel if he were here: Look for the Helpers.
And as the late seafood king Ivar Haglund famously said: Keep clam.
Wishing you All Good Medicine, citizens.

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