12 March 2020

[Guest Column by Mr. Fred Wheeler] - We Are All Snowflakes, Now


I grew up in the 1950s. During that time (before the vaccine) about 20,000 -30,000 people, mostly children, contracted polio every year. Of those, about 3,000 died annually.  Nobody ever figured out how you caught it, but people seemed to be most conscious of it during the summer.

Parents would warn you against swimming after you ate. One of our favorite forms of entertainment was playing in the spray from the lawn sprinkler. I remember one particular day my mother reminding me not to play in the water so soon after lunch.

The experience of contracting polio and its subsequent consequences were much more dire than this new virus. But, life went on. I don't remember the media keeping up with a daily tally of how many cases and deaths  we had so far. Sporting events were not cancelled. People continued to go to work. I don't really think I knew anybody who had polio (later in life I ran into several people who had it as children).

Polio was just a fact of life. One year we had the Hong Kong flu that killed about 65,000 people.

But, now the Coronavirus is upon us. We are in the process of closing down the world. Sporting events will be played with no fans present, political debates will be held without an audience, planes will fly with few passengers, etc. We all will be seeking a safe place. Meanwhile, 35,000 people will die of the plain ole flu.