Good Friends in New York City Report on Their Bouts with the Coronavirus

The Spanish Flu in 1918  infected 28 percent of all Americans. An estimated 675,000 Americans died of influenza during the pandemic, ten times as many as in World War I.

(Editor’s note: Given the surge of coronavirus cases in New York, I emailed my friends who live there and asked how they were doing. They responded yesterday, March 31.) 

“I took my wife to the hospital a while back, she had contracted coronavirus. She was having trouble breathing and was in bad shape,” my friend said. “I called her doctor in New York, we were in Connecticut.”

The doctor sent them to the Yale hospital in New Haven.

My friend wrote, “I was anxious to get to the hospital, but she was taking her time with makeup and getting dressed. I said, “Why are you bothering to do all of this?”

She said, “I want to look like I’m worth saving.”

“Luckily, she didn’t have to be admitted because her oxygen level was okay,” said her husband, who is over 70, and who only had a mild case. “I am lucky I am relatively healthy. I’m at the age that they may say, ‘Too old to save.’”

He said that his wife gets a flu shot every year and always gets the flu. “I never get a flu shot, never get the flu. My theory is that when I was born my parents took me home from the hospital on the A Train [in New York] where I was exposed to every disease known to man and built up an immunity.”

He said they are self-isolating for two weeks and that his wife is getting better.

He feels that “eventually everyone will be exposed, but the idea is to slow it down so that hospitals don’t get overwhelmed. We will probably have a second wave but by then we may have a vaccine or at least a better way to treat it.

“The 1918 Influenza ended when there were no more people to kill. You were either immune or you got it and died,” he said. “This virus is not as deadly.”

My friend commented on the AIDS virus, which he said is interesting. “They were talking about how the ‘cocktail’ and other treatments were helping people survive, but what really happened was the virus mutated to a less deadly form. A virus that kills its host dies with it,” he said and added, “The corona virus has a two-percent mortality rate. More than the flu. We will get through this and then there will be something else. As my biology professor said, ‘Nature bats last.’”

 

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