We hope that you and your family have been keeping safe during the Coronavirus pandemic. We have sure learned a lot, haven’t we? New terms and acronyms like ‘social distancing’ (which this author despises!), COVID-19, CDC (Center for Disease Control), NIH (National Institute of Health), WHO (World Health Organization), ‘virtual meetings’, N-95 masks and so much more. We’ve also learned a lot about ourselves – positive things. We have been united as a country, seeing the best in people in so many ways. We still have a long way to go but things will get better.

Pandemics and epidemics are nothing new and this is a good time to be reminded of that fact. There have been numerous pandemics throughout recorded time. Because of limited travel, most were limited in geography until the 19th century. One of the earliest pandemics occurred in NE China some 5,000 years ago.  The epidemic hit the community fast and hard. It had no regard for age or gender. It was to become a noted archaeological site called ‘Hamin Mangha’. The local community took the deceased and placed them in a house before burning it. There were no local graves, so archaeologists believe it was a one-time event.

It was not until the late 19th century that we saw a pandemic that had global proportions. The Flu Pandemic of 1898-1899 started in Moscow, spread to St. Petersburg, then Europe, then the rest of the industrialized world. In a mere five weeks the pandemic killed 1 million people worldwide.

With advances in travel, global mobilization, a growing global population, and many other factors the Twentieth Century was a boon for pandemics and epidemics. The Spanish Flu of 1918-19 may have been the most famous. The CDC calls the Spanish Flu the “Deadliest Flu”. Labeled H1N1, scientists are not sure of its origin. There was never any vaccine developed so doctors had to just let it run its course. In the end the Spanish flu had infected more than 500 million worldwide, one-third of the world’s population, including 675,000 in the US. The final toll was 50 million lives lost.

Others, maybe less known, have included:

  • The Asian Flu of 1957-58, claiming 1.1 million lives worldwide; 116,000 in the US.
  • The AIDS pandemic/epidemic, 1981 to present. AIDS has claimed over 35,000,000 lives worldwide thus far, but the encouraging news is that there is now treatment and many, many people with AIDS today live full lives. An interesting history note is that AIDS is thought to have begun in the 1920’s when a chimpanzee virus was transferred to humans in West Africa.
  • The Swine Flu pandemic of 2009-2010 infected 1.4 billion people worldwide. Unlike the Coronavirus and other viruses, the Swine Flu attacked people under 65. Those over 65 had developed a strong enough immune system to combat this N1H1-variable strain.
  • The Ebola epidemic of 2014-16 has claimed 11,600 deaths thus far, primarily in Africa. There is no vaccine yet for Ebola.
  • The Zika Virus started in 2015 and persists to present day. It’s primarily focused in the warmer, more humid climates of Central and South America.

And that bring us up to today and our COVID-19 pandemic. As this is being written there have been 1.5 million cases and 90,000 deaths in the US reported by the CDC. It seems that it has touched every single life in one manner or another; Either someone has been infected, lost their job, been unable to pay bills, collect unemployment, been shut up in their home for 8 weeks, become an OJT (On-the-Job) trained teacher, caretaker or, a hero. CBS Television ran a great documentary last week on what it has been like on the front lines in one of the hardest hit areas in the country – the Bronx of NYC. Excellent reporting. If you haven’t donated yet but would like to we would recommend the National Council on Aging. Finally, from all of us here at Affordable Medical Equipment we wish you continued safety and good health. Know that we are here to service your medical equipment, supply, and mobility needs.

‘Social distancing’ has such a bad connotation.  Let’s start calling it ‘physical distancing’ instead.