Mon, Aug. 10

Commentary: History proves we will prevail against COVID-19

Dan Engler

Dan Engler

There is a missive making the rounds on social media that is a mixture of humor, hope and assurance in these trying times.

In essence, it provides the promise that we will get through this evolving nightmare we know as coronavirus.

More specifically, it promises this crisis will end, and when it does, “every game will sell out, every restaurant will have a two-hour wait, every kid will be glad to be back in school, everyone will love their job, the stock market will skyrocket, every other house will get TP’d and we’ll all embrace and shake hands.” (Crystal Hill Antique Mall).

You can count on it.

Here’s why. The human race has seen worse. Much worse. And we always bounce back stronger. Every single time.

Who knows how long the infection period for COVID-19 will last? It’s only conjecture about how deadly this virus will be.

But at this point, COVID-19 pales in comparison to the devastation caused by prior pandemics. It was just 10 years ago that the H1N1 virus killed 200,000 people worldwide. Prior to that, the Hong Kong Flu in 1968-70 killed 1 million people.

A decade earlier, the Asian Flu (1957-58) killed 1.1 million people globally. And let’s not forget the HIV virus, which has claimed an estimated 35 million lives since first realized in 1981.

The most deadly scourge of the past 150 years was the Spanish Flu outbreak (1918-19) that claimed at least 50 million lives and lowered average life expectancy in the United States to 39 years old.

Obviously, this old world has seen worse than what COVID-19 has inflicted upon us.

We will get through this. We always have in the past and we will prevail again.

In his book “The Great Influenza,” author John M. Barry does an excellent job of putting into perspective the reality of pandemic disease. Barry likens them to weather disturbances such as tornadoes and hurricanes. They are, he wrote, a reality of life.

And just like a nightmarish F5 tornado or a Category 5 hurricane, we’ll never escape deadly viruses. They are a reality of life.

We can never predict when they will come our way, but they most certainly will. They are as unavoidable as a tornado or hurricane.

But the other reality is that no matter what life throws at us, we will persevere. Adversity in every shape and form will knock at our door forever.

We will get through this, just fine.

We always do.

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