By Dr. Harold A. Black

Happy New Year. Time Magazine proclaimed 2020 as being the “worse year ever.” Such a headline is a sad commentary on our tastes in that Time is still published and Mad Magazine is not. I doubt if 2020 will rank among the worse 50 years ever much less as the worse year of all time. Was it because of the hurricanes? Climatologists say that 2005 was a worse year than 2020. Perhaps it was because at the Hurricane Center there were so many named storms that they had to resort to the Greek alphabet. If more names are needed I suggest that since hurricanes now include male names and Hispanic names, in the spirit of political correctness that they take Rep. Maxine Waters’ suggestion and include black names. I await Hurricane LaTeesha.

Perhaps Time attributed the alleged worseness to the pandemic. Yet, as pandemics go, this one is fairly middling. It certainly doesn’t merit the worldwide panic and the draconian measures imposed by the politicians. COVID is not in the same league as malaria, tuberculosis, the flu and smallpox. It may even be less significant than HIV. The bubonic plague killed one third of the world’s population. Up to ninety percent of the indigenous inhabitants in the new world were killed by plagues brought by Western explorers to their shores. Then there was the Spanish flu – called the French flu by the Spaniards. Its estimated death toll ranged from 50 million to 200 million worldwide depending on who is doing the counting making 1918 the deadliest year in world history. But within a year the Spanish flu was gone without a vaccine to combat it. In contrast to COVID-19 the many of victims of the Spanish flu were young people. Hospitals overflowed and makeshift hospitals such as schools and private homes had to be used.  Contrast that to the Mercy ships with unused beds sitting In New York harbor during New York’s spike in COVID -19.

We have apparently learned nothing from the past. To combat the Spanish flu, the politicians mandated masks, banned spitting, imposed quarantines, banned public gatherings, shut down schools, churches and restaurants. Many cities imposed fines for not wearing masks. Sound familiar? Today, masks are the modern talisman, much like wearing garlic cloves around one’s neck to ward off evil spirits.

While COVID-19 infects all ages, its effect is rather mild except for the elderly or those with serious health problems. Yet the media acts as if positive tests equate to hospitalizations for everyone when that is obviously not the case. My granddaughter’s roommate at college tested positive. She exhibited no symptoms yet my granddaughter was quarantined at an on campus hotel. She loved it. She had chef prepared meals and privacy and wondered how she could make it permanent. Sadly, she had to go back in the dormitory. Now her university and many others have given them an extended Thanksgiving telling the students not to return to campus until the new year. That way they can spread the disease to their parents and grandparents.

The politicians say “follow the science.” What science? Much that has been reported as science has been wrong.  More worrisome is that the politicians and health “experts” seemed to be making up stuff as they go along so much so that virtually none have any credibility. For example, there is no scientific evidence showing that restaurants are a source of infections. There is scant evidence that school aged children are spreaders of the disease. There is no evidence that a 10 PM curfew lessens infections. Why is it that small businesses are thought to be spreaders and big box stores are not?  There are mandates that limit gatherings no greater than 10 or 50. Where is the evidence supporting these limits? Lockdowns do more harm than the disease itself. In fact, lockdowns probably prolong the disease.

There is no scientific evidence that sporting events should be postponed or even canceled. Every day athletes test positive and then return to their sport after being quarantined. The MVP of major league baseball is a COVID-19 “survivor.” Even the vast majority of coaches who test positive recover and now roam the sidelines. Few athletes have been hospitalized and virtually none have died. One university threatened students with expulsion who participated in a large party. Rather, they could have allowed the parties and permitted the entire student body to go to all athletic events because the risks are so low (so says the science).

I am 75. My mother died after testing positive. But she was 101. Yet I don’t feel that I need protecting by the government.  Still I guess it is naïve to wish that govenments would let us return to normal since it means they would have to give up their new found power. As for me, I am reminded of the saying (with apologies to Rudyard Kipling) “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs then perhaps you have misinterpreted the situation.”