Maybe this will finally get people to stop saying the coronavirus is a flu
This week, coronavirus deaths in the U.S. edged past 50,000 total. And that’s only deaths that are confirmed and known to have been caused by the virus — there are thousands more who died of suspected coronavirus, but that was never confirmed because of the country’s continued lack of testing capacity. All told, nearly a million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 as of this week.
For some context, the H1N1 pandemic took 12 months and 61 million infections to kill 12,500 Americans. During the 2018-2019 flu season — a particularly bad one — 34,200 Americans died of the seasonal flu during the entire season. In 2019, 38,800 Americans died in car crashes. Coronavirus, on the other hand, had killed just 225 people in the U.S. on March 20. On April 20, its death toll in this country was over 42,000.
The coronavirus has now killed more Americans than all those things in just one month. It is time for people to stop saying COVID-19 “isn’t as bad as the flu,” or “isn’t as bad as car crashes.” It is. In fact, it’s worse.
Why "it's not as bad as flu" — or car crashes or the 1957 pandemic — is not credible.
— Ari Schulman (@AriSchulman) April 13, 2020
The coronavirus has become one of the leading causes of death in the United States, surpassing heart disease and cancer at the height of its curve. And that’s with social distancing measures imposed in many cities and states. Without efforts to slow the virus’s spread, those numbers would undoubtedly be even worse. That’s despite certain leaders constantly comparing the virus to the flu, saying it’s not as dangerous as cars, and calling for distancing rules to be relaxed because saving the economy is more important than saving lives. COVID-19 is extremely dangerous and deadly, and these numbers should be all the proof anyone needs.
As one reporter pointed out last week, “if we are going to have 60,000 deaths with people not leaving their homes for more than a month, the number of deaths obviously would have been higher — much higher — if everyone had gone about business as usual.”
This is actually just the first wave of coronavirus infections in the U.S. Health experts are already warning that another wave will come when states and cities start to reopen and people continue to shirk social distancing practices. The virus is part of our lives now, and is likely to be for a long time. Hopefully, these numbers will help convince some people to take that more seriously than they have so far.