The People’s Republic of China currently has over 100 million citizens in lockdown. A new wave of Covid-19, the Corona Virus, has emerged in Northeast China. The first wave of the virus hit Stanislaus County about four months after it was first reported in Wuhan China. What can we now expect?
Now that the first wave of the Corona Virus has swept across the world, will another wave come and what will it look like? Throughout history, pandemics of various intensities have swept the world.
The June 1/June 8 double edition of Time Magazine has a comprehensive history of current and past pandemics. The Smithsonian Channel recently aired a program highlighting the devastation by the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919. The most deaths occurred in the fall, during the second wave.
If the current pandemic behaves like the Spanish Flu, Stanislaus County may expect a tsunami of virus to wash over anyone who does not take appropriate safety measures. We have heard repeatedly about the efficacy of sheltering in place, face masks and hand washing.
President Trump announced this past week that he absolutely will not shut down the country when the next wave hits. Not only will he not fully prepare the country for the next wave of the pandemic, but he plans to force every job holder to keep working regardless of risk to life.
Citizens who prefer to be safe will be punished for sheltering in place. Republicans in Congress are pushing a new law that holds employers harmless should employees be forced to work under unsafe conditions.
Should the President follow through on his stated policy, the number or citizens who will be killed by the virus will be devastating. In 1918, over 50 million were killed worldwide by the Spanish Flu because politicians hid the epidemic during wartime; healthcare workers had little knowledge of and resources to contain the flu.
Is Stanislaus County Better Off Than In 1918?
The Stanislaus County Public Health Department does not have the ability to adequately test or treat the county’s population. The Republican controlled County Board of Supervisors has mostly left funding of testing to the State of California. The Board previously closed the County-run hospital, so all treatment is provided by an overwhelmed private sector that currently has supply shortages.
The editorial board of the Modesto Bee has complained on more than one occasion about its inability to obtain data on County infection rates. Lack of testing remains one problem and lack of information coming from the County Health Department was the other problem. The May 23 edition of the Bee highlighted lack of available testing in West and South Modesto, current virus hot spots.
A reasonable person may assume that Stanislaus County is not better prepared than in 1918. Medical services are limited throughout the county. Present efforts to deal with the virus barely cover the current wave, which persists because essential workers are not adequately protected by their employers.
If the next wave of the pandemic is anywhere the size of the second wave in 1918, our community will be inundated because our political leadership pursues a policy of doing the minimum, not preparing adequately for emergencies. Public health is not considered a priority — road construction is.
When Will The Next Wave Hit?
The first wave of the Corona Virus has not yet ended. Stanislaus County still has citizens who are ill with the virus. The County has no idea how many citizens are currently infected because of continuous inadequate testing capacity.
In the case of the Spanish Flu, citizens had the virus in every month of 1918. The number of infected persons bottomed in July and August and then took off like a rocket in September, peaking in October 1918. The virus persisted until spring 1919, when it dissipated like a passing storm.
The Covid-19 virus has persistently spread throughout a world population of eight billion. Enough people are living and transmitting the virus so that the wave may never diminish.
In Stanislaus County, with people returning to work, gathering in large numbers, and relaxing by not wearing masks or washing hands properly, the virus will probably persist throughout the summer. Locally, a big flare up will occur in the fall if normal indoor activities resume or visitors bring another strain of the virus to us.
Some say that the virus will one day magically disappear. Watch for the prognosticators on Fox News. The virus could dissolve away and cease to exist. But if you want to win some money, bet that the virus will be coming back, worse in the second wave.
Development of a vaccine is offered as a hope. Before that happens, many more citizens will be gone.