Many years ago a movie was produced that was based on H.G. Wells 1901 book, First Men in the Moon. There have been numerous versions of the book to hit the big screen. One of these depicted space travelers going to the moon, fighting aliens and all but one earth traveler returning to earth. Later, another mission went to the moon and discovered an underground civilization dead and the buildings in a state of decay and disrepair. As the movie closed the narrator stated that the one earthling left behind did have a bad cold. This eluded that the moon people had no resistance to the cold virus and could have destroyed the moon civilization.
While this is science fiction there are actual cases where a small microscopic bug that has natural human immunities in parts of the world has decimated cultures in other parts of our planet. Many of our Native Americans died out with little reason. It was later identified that many of the indigenous groups had a dramatic drop in population and a degraded culture as Europeans traveling through the native lands on exploration trips came in contact with the Indians. The theory is that viruses unknown to the Indians were introduced to the population and decimated the tribes.
In 1519 Hernando Cortez entered the land of the Aztec in Mexico and set siege to its capital. One soldier had caught smallpox from a soldier that had come from Cuba. That soldier died and his body was looted by an Aztec warrior. The Aztec carried the virus to the city where the disease spread like wildfire. The Aztecs had never been subjected to the virus and smallpox would kill six million. The sickened Aztec nation then fell to the Spanish under Cortez.
When I was a small child I traveled to Ruston with my father. We were at the train station waiting for a train to pass. My father pointed to the depot and said that when he was boy his father took him to Ruston and showed him World War I coffins stacked as high and as far as could be seen. “Killed in War,” I asked. “No”, he responded. “They died of the flu.”
The Spanish flu devastated the world in 1918. Fifty million people died. This equates to two hundred million people today. With half a million being in the United States, the legacy of this world-wide pandemic has left a lasting impression on America and the rest of the world. The flu was devastating by killing more in 24 weeks than HIV/AIDS has killed in 24 years. The origin of the virus is debated; however, the greatest number of researchers believe the origin was Northern China. Once it reached the army camps of World War II it quickly spread and covered the world. Viruses such as this mutate or change. The Spanish flu came in two waves. The second deadly wave diminished as quickly as it appeared. In the week of October 16 of 1918, 4,915 people died from the Spanish Flu in Philadelphia. By the week of November 11, 1918, the flu had practically disappeared from the city. The flu suddenly vanished.
There have been current world-wide infections that threatened the world. SARS is a virus that reared its head in 2003. The virus originated in China and came from a type of bat. Over 8,000 cases were reported and 774 deaths occurred. This is a fatality rate (CFR) of 11 percent. Like other viruses it ran its course without a developed vaccination. The virus is defined as “a viral respiratory disease of zoonotic origin caused by the SARS coronavirus”. No world-wide out break has been reported since 2004. Like the current Corona virus, the disease likely began in open air markets in China.
We are currently in the grips of a pandemic as proclaimed by the World Health Organization. There are two elements to this pandemic. One is the health issues and the fear it brings to American citizens. The second issue is the economic hardship and how this pandemic will affect the individual person’s ability to live a comfortable life. The first issue is not new and will be a normal response for a civilization to address. The second issue is new for a federal government to address en mass. The federal government has helped in various aspects during financial problems but nothing to compare to what the federal is attempting at this time.
America is finally rising to the occasion and there are now signs of Americans coming together for a common cause. When the CEOs of COSTCO and Walmart and Target can stand on a podium next to the President of the United States and declare unity to work together to combat this virus, we are together. When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can appear on Fox News and call for unity and forget political bias, we are together. When the President can call a National Emergency, we are in unity.
All we need is for the rest of Capitol Hill to forgo political drama and get behind a common cause. When Congress developed an economic support bill it included a billion dollar inclusion for abortion rights. I am still scratching my head trying to figure out what that had to do with confronting the Corona virus. Fortunately it was killed before the package went to a vote.
Keep going America. You look pretty good when you are in unity.
Tuffy Fields may be reached by emailing thelouisianaexplorer@ yahoo.com.