Be sure not to ignore the flu

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Dr. Lisa Wilson made an interesting report during a talk she gave to the Roxboro Rotary Club last week.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has killed (at that time) about 6,000 people worldwide. The flu, she said, killed 80,000 people last year.

“And, I can’t get people to take their flu shots,” she said.

Like COVID-19, the flu is a contagious virus that, left untreated, can kill a person.

The pace of news over the past five days concerning the coronavirus has been staggering.

Business – including this one – are closing their doors to the public or limiting their hours. That’s not good for anyone’s bottom line, especially for retail businesses that don’t make money without customers walking in the door.

People have stocked up on supplies like a hurricane or a snowstorm is coming.

On Sunday, when my wife went the grocery, should couldn’t find any bread, and my daughter reported going to a grocery store near her home in Raleigh and she could find almost no meat in the store.

I’ve never seen, on the other hand, such a universal concern about the flu which, according to the point Wilson was trying to make, should probably be respected as much or more than the coronavirus. I’m not sure why we don’t take the flu any more seriously than we do, but dead is dead. At the end of the day most of us probably don’t care which kind of virus kills us.

Wilson’s point to her audience on Thursday was not that we should not take the coronavirus seriously. We should. And, we should take all the steps that are being taken, from frequent hand-washing to social distancing, to the cancellation of schools,

Instead, she wanted to make the point that we should also take flu season seriously. There are plenty of announcements as flu-season gets underway in late fall encouraging people to get a flu shot.

It’s possible, I suppose, that the annual pronouncements become more and more like white noise that we ignore as we do other things. The coronavirus, on the other hand is novel and unusual. The illness’s wave across North Carolina likely isn’t over yet and it’s unclear how long it will take for the virus to burn itself out.

But you can bet next fall, some strain of the influenza virus will show up again, making lots of people sick and killing more than it ought to. Hopefully, we learn a lesson from our experience with the coronavirus this year and next year, when the call for getting a flu shot goes out, we’ll heed the warning and take all the precautions we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll all see our daily routines shift around in some way or another thanks to the coronavirus. I hope it won’t inconvenience you. And, I hope Person County remains fortunate enough to be listed among the counties that have not yet had a reported case of COVID-19.

Hopefully, the illness will run its course, as seems to be happening in China where this all started, and we can all return to a normal lifestyle. And, come next fall, we’ll all line up for our flu shot.

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