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Lockdowns haven’t proved they’re worth the havoc

27 1 3
25.05.2020

New York – My junior and senior years in high school were 1968 and 1969; five decades later, I can still remember some of the main events of that era: the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, the bombing of Cambodia, the Apollo 8 spaceflight that orbited the moon, and Woodstock, which I pleaded with my parents to let me attend. (They said no.)

In my personal life, I remember playing on the basketball team, buying my first car, working in my family’s corner grocery store and wishing I had the nerve to ask certain girls out on a date. Here’s what I don’t remember: the pandemic of 1968-1969.

And yet there was one. It was called the H3N2 virus — less formally, the Hong Kong flu — and it took a significant toll. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that 1 million people died worldwide, 100,000 in the United States. Conditions in large U.S. cities sound similar to what they’re going through now, with overwhelmed hospital workers, millions of people getting sick and the elderly most likely to die.

When I first read about this pandemic, I could scarcely believe I had missed it. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the virus wreaked havoc in Europe, with French manufacturers suffering severe disruptions and West German garbage collectors burying the dead because there weren’t enough undertakers.

In the U.S., the New York Times reported, the Citadel had to suspend classes because 165 cadets came down with the virus. Absenteeism in Los Angeles schools rose as high as 25 percent. In Boston, where I would soon be headed to college, university infirmaries were said to be filled with ill students. Tallulah Bankhead was a prominent victim of the virus.

A quick search confirms that the Times had covered the pandemic at the time. But I didn’t read the Times when I was in high school, and even if I had, I might well have missed the coverage. Every article was buried well inside the paper.

I did........

© The Japan Times