I have a LOT of feelings about the COVID-19 outbreak and the paranoia and media coverage surrounding it. It’s dredged up a lot of memories of my dad, and of his fight in ICU in December 2013-January 2014.
A month after he was admitted, we were suddenly without my dad. He was 62. His cause of death was sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome as brought on by double pneumonia (in both lungs). The pneumonia in turn, we believe, was brought on by an unknown virus, most likely the H1N1 influenza that was going around in the 2013-14 season. He also had an existing cellulitis infection that had worn down his immunity.
The 2013-14 H1N1 was a BAD year for flu. The CDC reports that in that season, there were the highest rates of hospitalizations for those age 50-64 than in 2009 when H1N1 first came to exist. All that to say: If my dad had his flu shot that year, it had a 62 percent effectiveness rate, and maybe he would still be with us today.
My message to those who are reacting to media coverage of COVID-19: Viral infections like these can happen ANYTIME. Getting your flu shot, and pneumonia shot for those over 65, is important EVERY year. Going to your doctor when you are sick is what everyone should do — though sadly, many cannot afford to. But if you can, GO.
And as for this year’s COVID-19 outbreak: Keep it in perspective. Odds are low that a healthy adult without preexisting immune-suppressing conditions will get a serious case of COVID-19.
But washing your hands with soap while singing “Happy Birthday” is always a good idea.