Comparing numbers

Geez, such a big deal with this COVID-19. As of April 28, we have 1,101 Florida deaths attributed to the virus — and no doubt some of them are wrongly determined due to hysteria.

That is one death for every 19,000 people in Florida over a four-month period. With 21 million Floridians, I'm pretty sure we lose 1,101 every four months without anyone raising an eyebrow.

I just did some cursory checking. In 2017, we had 161,581 deaths in Florida from disease, murder, car accidents — all causes. That's 53,860 deaths every four months. What is so terrible about losing 1,101 that we have to destroy our economy and cause monumental disruption in society?

I am not suggesting that anyone dying is meaningless. I am simply putting the small number of COVID-19 deaths in context with the overall death rate in Florida.

I am confident that numbers across America would be roughly the same — very small. There is no doubt that the death toll would have been significantly higher without the national quarantine and other efforts to control the spread of the virus, but even at four times the current rate it still would not have been worthy of the social and economic upheaval that we are going to experience.

The repercussions from this social and economic tumult will be profound.

Lawrence Walsh, Ocala

Don’t repeat the past

I have just finished reading the book “America’s Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918” by Alfred W. Crosby, my third book on this subject. I find it very sobering that the pandemic of 1918-19 mirrors closely what we are going through now. One frightening similarity is the condition of the lungs when affected by the viruses.

The 1918 pandemic took place during World War I and showed up in the spring, though there were hints of the sickness months before. It spread throughout the troops, the United States and the world. It even made its way to remote villages in Alaska, devastating the far-flung areas. It killed millions during that period.

The summer brought a reprieve; people attended gatherings and parades to celebrate the war effort. Then, in September, the virus reared its ugly head again, more deadly than before. When it returned, it is estimated that the worldwide number of deaths was 50 million with some estimates up to 100 million. The discrepancy could be in the counting from India, China and Russia. Evidence of the virus continued until November 1919. For more than a year, to a year and a half, the virus raged over the world.

Entitlements and partisan politics do not scare or impress a virus. We are its host in which to live, grow, mutate and reproduce. As mentioned in the book, two important controls over the spread of the virus were social distancing and responsive, informed and effective leadership. If we don’t learn from the past, we will be forced to repeat it.

Carol Beaver, Dunnellon

Pay the teachers for their work

OK, let me get this straight: School district employees have been getting paid but did not have to work unless they wanted to, while teachers have been working all along — except for the week after spring break.

From what I understand, a lot of teachers have been working longer hours than normal because of the new distance learning, computer glitches and meetings, plus teaching kids.

This does not seem fair. To the teachers and the 150 food service workers and other staff who actually did their jobs and worked, I think you all deserve a big bonus. How about it, School Board?

Shari Spaeth, Ocala