Flu vs. COVID

Food for Thought

I was looking forward to Essex Pearl’s popup dinner this past weekend, but they had to cancel because of the rising number of COVID cases. It’s the right thing to do, but still sad. Instead of their exciting seafood dishes, I had a plate full of yuca.

I’ve been noticing that whenever someone I know died from COVID, people accepted the news as if the cause was something common like pneumonia. Fortunately, nobody close to me died from it, so my view might be skewed. Many people get upset if you draw an analogy to flu, but in practice, they seem to treat COVID deaths as if they were from the flu anyway.

HIV was different. There was a sense that we had an enemy we needed to defeat. People were angry that the lives of their loved ones were cut short.

It’s not like COVID is lacking potential targets of our anger. We can blame those who refuse to get vaccinated, our political leaders for their mishandling of the crisis, the specific people who infected the deceased, China, etc. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying we should blame them. I’m just surprised that everyone seems to be accepting the deaths as if it was their time. It’s surprisingly graceful.

“People die from flu every year” is a fact you wouldn’t want to mention because people take it to mean that you don’t care, that you would not take any precautions or try to protect others. What is implied by the negative reaction is that it’s OK to spread the flu. Well, it’s not. Many people do die from it every year, and we should be doing everything we can to stop the spread, like wearing a mask if we have flu symptoms. If you infect someone, and if he dies from it, it means you literally killed him. But nobody thinks like that, partly because we would otherwise be terrified of socializing and wouldn’t be able to live.

In managing the fear and anxiety over your own life, you should indeed equate COVID with flu, especially if you have been vaccinated and are relatively young; no point in developing ulcers. But your actions have societal consequences different from those of flu, like overwhelming ICUs. In other words, if you are doing all the right things, it’s OK to think of COVID as just like the flu.