I lost several people I loved in 2021. None of them from COVID 19. I was sad. Sad. Sad. Sad.
Time. I needed time.
So I took it.
|Mount Shasta, California|
Some 'climbing' was physical. I drove through the Appalachians, Smokeys, Rockies, Sierra Nevada and the Cascades to get back to my old school district in Washington to fill a need as a long term substitute teacher for the school I had lived near for 14 years. Working with people I knew, my daughter's previous teachers and in my old neighborhood? How could I say no that?
Some 'climbing' was emotional. I hadn't planned on ever moving back to Washington and was so content on the east coast, but to continue my career, Washington was my best bet. New York would only allow me to teach Earth Science and I wanted the option of teaching biology, chemistry and math. It was hard at first, but people welcomed me 'home' with open arms. I am back working with students, families and friends that I love. The pandemic has made things difficult, but not insurmountable.
Doing the best thing, the right thing, is not most often easy. It is, in fact, most often difficult. But after I climb that difficult mountain, I relish the view and the pride I feel in my accomplishment. And I learned to find joy in the journey. I visited a younger sister in Virginia and went to plop my feet into the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in my life. I drove to the Raleigh, North Carolina, to the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and observed the temple work of my father, brother, grandfather and great grandfather. I was sealed to my parents for time and all eternity, and participated in the sealing of my parents to each other, my brother to my parents, my grandparents together, my father to his parents (my grandparents) and my grandfather to his parents. 4 generations of Soutars sealed. A mountain peak of peace and gratitude, 41 years in the making.
I drove to Myrtle Beach and saw a friend from home whom I had not seen since graduation in 1979. I saw my older sister a mere few weeks before she passed away. I saw my daughter before the pandemic kept us two highly-infected states apart. I drove through new states! Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. All along my two, well-traveled kitties in the car who kept me deliciously cuddled in Motel 6 beds across America. I Facebook haikued my way across the mild, southern, February landscape and up the west coast back to Bothell where I was embraced with love and bids to 'come see us.'
And here I sit hoping for fewer mountains to climb this year, but the nation in crisis after the attack on the Nation's Capitol January 6, the constant change of growing older and the hope for a COVID vaccine sooner rather than later are my first hurtles. There will be more...and I must patiently remember: JOY IN THE JOURNEY.
"The seasonal flu kills people, too."
Ok, yes it does. People have said it, but they haven't backed up their statement with data.
I'm a science teacher, so I want numbers. I went to the CDC. The data is public.
The following number of estimated deaths OF ALL AGES occurred during these associated years.
2018-19 34,157 deaths
2017-18 61,099 deaths
2016-17 38,230 deaths
2015-16 22,705 deaths
2014-15 51,376 deaths
2013-14 37,930 deaths
2012-13 42,570 deaths
2011-12 12,447 deaths
2010-11 36,656 deaths
Keeping in mind that there is a seasonal shot for the seasonal flu, and nowhere are there remotely accurate estimates of how many influenza cases are PREVENTED by the flu shot, let's compare the number flu deaths per YEAR (12 months) to the number of COVID 19 deaths thus far recorded (6 months - end of Jan - July 31, 2020) by the CDC. (July, 31, 2020)
So far there are 151,499 deaths due to COVID 19 in the first 6 months of 2020. If we look at the number of deaths for 12 months for each of the years listed above, it would take the sum of last 4 years of flu deaths (2015-2019) to come close to how many COVID 19 has killed already for 2020.
Total number of flu deaths recorded in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 = 150,191 deaths, still lower than today's COVID 19 total (as of this writing) of 151,499.
If you look at the particularly hard flu years of 2012, 2014 and 2017 and add them together, you get 155,045 flu deaths, which is actually more than today's total COVID 19 deaths. There were 1,216 new COVID deaths recorded since yesterday. If we make a blatantly unscientific assumption that the same number will continue to die every day after today, (I could run an algorithm to extrapolate the data into a best fit curve, but it's summer...) 2020 COVID 19 deaths would reach the same number of deaths as the three highest flu seasons above by August 3, 2020 at approximately 4 pm, CDC time.
So, yes, the flu kills people. Lots of people. There is a flu shot. It does help stem the spread of the seasonal influenza, some. It is not 100% effective. I have had the flu, twice. Once without a shot (age 15) and once with a shot (40 something). Not something I want to repeat. I get a flu shot every year.
The numbers show that this new coronavirus which causes COVID 19 is a more lethal illness than seasonal influenza. Numbers do not have emotions. Numbers do not choose sides of political or personal arguments. Numbers are what they are, representative data of each person who has lost their battle against a terrible disease.
I do not want to experience COVID 19. I do not want to cough and choke for breath. My mother had asthma, that is what she died from when I was 16. I watched her die. It is a violent way to go.
My age and underlying health conditions would no doubt cause any health care provider great concern as to the outcome of my battle with this disease. They cause ME concern.
So, I will stay where I am. I will cautiously leave my disease free domicile in small trips for necessities and an occasional social distanced, outdoor excursion. I believe that battling COVID 19 is a far greater threat to my freedom to enjoy life than wearing a mask.
Check out the CDC numbers; they speak for themselves.
Aug 3 update: at 7:35 Pacific Daylight time the CDC reports 155, 204 deaths.
Penny Lee Soutar