What Can We Learn from the COVID-19 Numbers?
Lately I have been struggling with the newscasts I watch. All I seem to get is 25 minutes of scary, negative news about COVID-19 only to end the broadcast with a 30-second ‘feel good’ piece showing people riding by a hospital honking their horns and holding signs that say “We Love You” to all the front liners. Now, I love those 30-second pieces but isn’t there some other way to effectively communicate concrete, positive evidence that we are going to survive this ordeal? Considering everything we have been through as a country, can we maybe learn something by looking at the COVID-19 numbers and do a comparative statistical analysis with other disasters we have endured in our history?
Now, before we do our comparative analysis let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am a “man of faith’ and I believe there is nothing more precious or valuable in this world than human life. Every human life, every person in this world has a purpose, a reason for being here. I believe that God made each of us different for the very reason that we would each contribute differently to His world. Like you, I am heartbroken by the loss of life from this insidious virus. So, I do not want this comparative statistical analysis to come across in any way as me taking lightly the trauma and grief that COVID-19 has brought to thousands of families not to mention its horrific economic impact. But, let’s look at the COVID-19 pandemic for what it is and how it compares, statistically speaking, with other a couple other American disasters.
As of this morning (4/27/2020), here’s what my Google research had to offer.
Comparatively speaking, let’s look at the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.
Now, let me make sure you get those numbers and percentages right. In the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, the 675,000 U.S. deaths represented just over 1/2 of 1% of the entire U.S. population at the time. By comparison, the 55,415 deaths from COVID-19 pandemic represent less than 2/100 of 1% of the current U.S. population and it is less than 10% of the 675,000 deaths that occurred in the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. Making a totally different kind of “loss of life” comparison, in the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865, there were 620,000 American casualties which represented almost 2% of the then current U.S. population (31,443,321).
As I do this comparison and see the numbers for what they are, it immediately takes me to a quote by Tom Pollack, “Things are never as good as they look and never as bad as they seem.” That may or may not be the case, but why does this COVID-19 stuff seem so scary and totally out of control to us? Maybe because we have become a society that over-communicates everything we see and hear and do. I am convinced that the overwhelming amount of content that comes into our lives every day from our cell phones and on the Internet makes everything seem bigger and better or worse than it is. Am I making light of the dangers of COVID-19? Absolutely not! We need to be practicing ‘social distancing’, frequent washing of our hands, etc. We need to be smart. But yes, looking at history and the kind of disasters we have lived through before in this country, I have no doubt that we are going to come out of this one, too. There is HOPE for a better tomorrow.
Will there be a ‘new normal?’ Probably so, at least until we have a vaccine and/or known cure for COVID-19, and guess what? That’s okay. Our lives changed after 9/11 and now, for some time, there will most likely be some more changes once again. And maybe we need to make some changes of our own?
How about this? Maybe we need to slow down and pray more. Let’s Be Brave and take time to start and end EVERY day in prayer; praying for all those front liners and first responders, for the supply chain workers, for everyone who is putting themselves at risk for so many of us staying at home. Let’s pray for healing, understanding and kindness, for tolerance and patience. Let’s pray for ALL people in America and around the world. More than ever, let’s pray for peace.
God did not create this world so we could live in fear. Sometimes we need to overcome our fears, the things we don’t understand – and right now, in many ways, we do not understand what we are dealing with. That’s okay. Be Brave. Jesus was brave enough to go to the cross for each and every one of us. You want real HOPE? Don’t expect to find it on the 6 o’clock news. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; when we are brave enough to act out of love, that’s when we see the very best in ourselves. That, my friends, is when we find our HOPE.