The 1918 influenza pandemic, described by experts as “the deadliest in human history”, had killed at least 50 million people worldwide, noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is equivalent to 200 million in terms of the present day’s population of the world.
And an estimated 675,000 of those deaths had taken place in the United States.
And the latest pandemic – the coronavirus pandemic, has killed more Americans than the influenza pandemic in just 18 months.
According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, death of at least 675,446 Americans has been confirmed since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic till now. And the number continues to increase with each passing day.
While exceeding the 1918 death toll is a dubious distinction, experts have pointed out key differences between both pandemics that one has to consider while comparing the impact of the two pandemics – especially when considering the much greater access to better healthcare options and availability of vaccines.
“These are two different viruses, two different times in history, at two different times of medical history, with what you have available to combat or treat it,” Howard Markel, professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan, told ABC News.
The 1918 influenza pandemic started during the spring of that year and lasted for two years or so. It was caused by the novel H1N1 virus which jumped from birds to humans. According to the CDC, that pandemic had either caused the death of or infected at about one-third of the global population at that time – about 500 million people.
However, Dr. Graham Mooney, assistant professor of the history of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says that the death toll in the 1918 pandemic was likely a gross underestimation due to non-registration, missing records, misdiagnosis or underreporting.
Similarly, some experts fear that the Covid-19 deaths could be undercounted because of inconsistent reporting of cases and deaths by states and localities as well as due to intentional exclusion of excess deaths in some countries or regions.
Experts like Markel also noted the differences in population in the United States between 1918 – which was at approximately 105 million, compared to the 2019 figure of 328 million, according to census data, compared to 328 million people in 2019.
The current Covid-19 case fatality rate is at 1.6% while the metric in the 1918 influenza was at 2.5% fatality rate for influenza in 1918, said Mooney.
Typically the fatality rate of flu is less than 0.1% and therefore the Covid-19 death rate in the U.S. is significantly lower than the one that was noted for the 1918 pandemic.
Hence, according to Christopher McKnight Nichols, associate professor of history at Oregon State University, the 1918 influenza pandemic was far deadlier compared to the coronavirus pandemic when comparison is made on a per-capita basis.
“The difference is that 1 in 500 Americans have died now, and about 1 in 152 died in 1918, although our number keeps going up,” Nichols told ABC News.
Nichols however notes that the roll out of Covid-19 vaccines had created a difference between the two pandemics even though the two were comparable initially.
“People were desperate for treatment measures in 1918. People were desperate for a vaccine,” Nichols said. “We have effective vaccines now, and so what strikes me in the comparison, if you think about this milestone, this tragedy of deaths, is that same number but we have a really effective treatment, the thing that they most wanted in 1918 and ’19, we’ve got. And for a lot of different reasons, we botched the response.”
There were no vaccines or treatment against the 1918 influenza, just like towards the beginning of the current coronavirus pandemic and hence people were unprotected. Hence, use of non-pharmaceutical interventions was critical for controlling the pandemic. Mooney said.
“The same kinds of measures — the so-called non-pharmaceutical interventions that were put on in 1918 — were the same that we saw last year: lockdowns, social distancing, hygiene masks, limits on gathering places,” Nichols said.
According to Markel, one of the biggest lessons learned from the 1918 pandemic was social distancing and had showed he world that if it was done early, and for a continued period of time, it can help spread of a pandemic.
Florida Again Tops List Of Best Places To Retire in US for 2021-2022
Retirees have once again selected Florida more than any other state in the U.S. as the best place to live in, according to a report in Fox Business.
The state has seven of the top 10 places in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the best places to retire for 2021-2022.
Sarasota is on the top again, the second year in a row even as its scores dropped in categories of housing, health care and happiness, according to the report.
“People are fed up of living at home for a year now. Many are dreaming of retiring to the beaches in Florida,” said Emily Brandon, senior editor for retirement, U.S. News.
Sarasota increased its scores in retiree tax, desirability, and the job market.
Daytona Beach Enters Top 10
At No. 2 is Naples, while Daytona Beach jumped 12 places to reach No. 3.
Daytona’s climb can be attributed to a low crime rate and good air quality, both of which are factors in calculating the overall happiness score of a metropolitan area.
According to Brandon, when it comes to comparing places for retirement it is important to look out for proximity to health care services, affordable housing, and a robust economy, especially if you want to work part-time.
Pennsylvania and Michigan also entered the top 10 list this year. Lancaster and Ann Arbor were ranked 5 and 9, respectively.
Out of the top 25 places to retire, the Pennsylvania metro area occupied seven spots due to access to good-quality health care facilities.
To reach these conclusions, U.S. News examined 150 of the most populated metropolitan areas in the country to see how they lived up to people’s expectations for retirement by evaluating factors such as health care, affordable housing, and overall happiness.
In order to find out what was important for people who had retired, the survey was conducted across the US of individuals between the ages of 45 and 59 and those who were 60 and above.
Families Of Florida School Massacre Victims Settle Suit With School District
Families of the 17 people who were killed when a lone gunman rampaged through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018 have reached a settlement amounting to $25 million with Broward County school district, US News reported.
Most of the injured and others who were traumatized by the incident are also part of the settlement, the report said, adding that the lawsuit was filed by the victims’ families, who accused the school district of negligence.
52 Families Part Of Settlement
Attorney David Brill, who represented the families, said Monday that 52 families from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, Parkland will be part of the settlement. He didn’t say how much each of the families will get but the largest share of the settlement will be given to families of 14 students and three staff who were killed. The share each family gets will be equal.
This development comes after the state Supreme Court decided in favor of the school district in a ruling which would have put a $300,000 limit on total damages without approval from the Legislature.
“The settlement is painful money. It’s hard to talk about money when our daughter was murdered. How could we be happy about the money?” said Andrew Pollack, father of 18-year-old Meadow, who died in the shooting.
Of the 17 injured, 16 will get the money as the family of one seriously wounded student, Anthony Borges, have filed their own lawsuit, contending that his injuries require a lifetime of treatment and larger payment. Borges received serious gunshot wounds on his lungs, abdomen, and legs.
“Anthony’s physical wounds were healing, but the post-traumatic stress disorder is now manifesting itself and is more troubling,” said their attorney, Alex Arreaza, who expects that a settlement will be reached soon.
Money will also be paid to 19 people who suffered severe trauma because of the incident.
Families of other students have lawsuits pending against the local Sheriff’s Office and former Deputy Scot Peterson.
Pearson, who is also facing criminal charges, was the school’s armed resource officer and has been blamed for his failure to enter the school building and stop the shooter.
He said he didn’t know at that time where the shots were coming from.
The families are also suing two security guards who they say were unable to respond when the gunman reached the campus.
The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, is expected to plead guilty Wednesday to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.
Florida: Freed Murder Convict Charged With Killing Single Mother
A convicted murderer who was released from jail last year has been charged with killing a South Florida resident whose body was found in a canal, three weeks after she went missing, authorities said.
Sunrise Police charged Eric Pierson, 54, on Oct. 16 with first-degree murder for killing Erika Verdecia, 33, who leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter, hours after her body was fished out of the canal near Fort Lauderdale, ABC News reported.
According to a statement issued by police, Pierson confessed that he stabbed her multiple times with a screwdriver on Sept. 25.
He had served 27 years of a 40-year jail term, before walking out of prison last year, for beating and strangulating to death Kristina Whitaker (17) in 1993. Her death spurred the push for longer sentences.
After her killing, the state of Florida banished parole and made it compulsory for convicts to serve at least 85% of their jail term. But the change couldn’t be applied retroactively leading to Pierson, who was eligible, to be released.
Back in 1985, he broke into a home and slit a woman’s throat, serving just four years of an 18-year sentence for first-degree attempted murder before getting out on parole.
Speaking to South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Verdecia’s mother Carmen said she fails to understand why such a dangerous criminal was out on the streets and free to attack her daughter.
“Why is he on the streets? Why?” she said. “We will not stop this time. We will ensure that he goes straight to the electric chair.”
The slain woman’s family reported her mission on Sept. 27, three days after she left home and didn’t come back.
Carmen then contacted Erika’s friends on social media and was told that she was seen with a man who said his name was Eric Pearson.
When Carmen searched the name on the internet, she was shocked and horrified to see stories of his past crimes.
She went to the police and informed that her daughter was last seen with a murderer but it was too late.
Girlfriend Nails Killer
According to court documents, police said they had stopped Pierson’s truck on Sept. 25 with Erika by his side but she didn’t appear in distress. It was the day when detectives say he killed the woman.
On Oct. 4 when police contacted him again, he told them Erika had walked away when he stopped for gas shortly after the traffic stop on Sept. 25.
He claimed he never saw her again after that though surveillance video showed that the gas stop happened before the traffic stop and she was with him in the vehicle at the gas station.
On Friday, police again questioned him and when he let them search the truck, they found blood stains inside.
Later, on Friday, his girlfriend called police and told them that Pierson stared at the canal behind their house saying, “Damn that bitch stinks.” She also told police that he said, “If they don’t find a body, they don’t have a case.”
Erika’s body was fished out of the canal a few hours later.
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