Readings and Listening To Consider - 5/19/22

Books and Articles worth a Review… 

On The Lighter Side, Love in KilnerryI recently attended a movie premier that used the town next door to Kittery as its backdrop for an American oasis – Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The community was depicted as this wonderful little place with a fair number of older residents (which is very “true” for Kittery and increasingly less “true” for Portsmouth!!) and, it included a bustling number of youngers as well (also, true!!). The premise of the movie is that Kilnerry has a chemical plant located in the community where the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently completed research finding that of study of rats showed that they were becoming hyper-sexual as a result of pollutants from the factory. Hmmm 😊. You get the drift. The story then describes how the elders in town – upon learning the news – were seemingly adopting the news as their own. Any number of the characters become engaged in dalliances worthy of good humor and fun, including the local priest who declares himself a “nudist” in the manner in which God created man – in front of his entire congregation! It’s a very fun movie and I highly recommend it – in part as a diversion from the many troubling days we are facing across the world. Check it outYou will not be disappointed. BTW, the Mayor of Portsmouth declared the city “Kilnerry for the Day” when the debut of the movie was shown at the local high school. As you can imagine the audience was filled with elders from both sides of the Piscataqua River… There were many in the audience who were reminiscing about the ‘60s and ‘70s – but, I didn’t ask why…

Pandemic Lessons From History – We are all “tired”. We want everything to “return to normal”. We miss the “personal contact”. And, the list goes on… In essence, after two and one-half year of a full-throttled COVID-19 pandemic, we are “exhausted”. I recently read an article that provided some very interesting lessons learned from prior pandemics. While you can go review the article on your own, here is the Cliff Notes version:

1.       Past pandemics do not perfectly predict the direction of future (or, existing) pandemics – The one pandemic that we all tend to turn to for “lessons learned” is the 1918 flu pandemic that killed over 50 million people worldwide. The article points to an article completed by two University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences professors, historian Mari Webel and virologist Megan Culler Freeman. They noted early on that:  “Unfortunately, the end of influenza in summer 1919 does not portend the end of COVID-19 in the summer of 2020.”

2.      Calling the pandemic over when it’s not really over – The parallels are stunning. When the 1918 pandemic continued on for a long time, the American as well as the world population became fed up with the social distancing precautions requirements. Hmmm!! Some reactions never change. Individual choices were highlighted, and the end result was a premature return to “normal”.

3.       Once a virus causes a pandemic, it become a continuous presence in the population – In the past pandemics basically burnt themselves out! Take the “Black Death” as an example. It has caused at least 3 major pandemics over the last 5,000 years according to the article. Nükhet Varlik, a historian at Rutgers University notes that these pandemics finally wound down as a result of “changes in temperature, humidity and the availability of hosts, vectors and a sufficient number of susceptible individuals.” The only successful campaign to wipe out a pandemic-causing virus has been smallpox – and, that’s only a very recent phenomenon.

4.       An endemic endgame is probable – Most of the researchers who are following the COVID-19 pandemic are coming to the conclusion that the virus (SARS-CoV-2) is going to hang around in the populace as an ongoing threat due to is highly mutatable state. And, like the flu, it spreads easily through the air.

So, the message seems clear. We may be in for a societal change related to “social distancing”, the use of “masks”, the details of “gatherings” and all of the other changes we’ve experienced over the last couple of years. The other clear message from the article is that we need to stay abreast of the CDC recommendations on COVID-19 vaccinations.

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