This Is Not The Flu

I had it. Was sick a month with Covid-19. Because it got so bad, at times, it can be frustrating hearing people say this is just like the flu. They usually start by suggesting the death total of the flu is similar to that of Covid-19. This is not accurate. H1N1 Swine Flu killed 12,500 Americans in 2009–2010 over a period of 12 months (61 million infections). Season Flu in 2018–2019 killed 34,200 Americans. In one month — ONE MONTH — the coronavirus has killed 42,000 Americans (March 20-April 20). Plus, there seems to have been significant underreporting of the Covid-19 death toll, as suggested in The New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/05/us/coronavirus-deaths-undercount.html).

But, more to the point, to imply this is like the flu is disrespectful to both those who have gotten ill with this — suffered from it — or even died from it —as well as the health care workers who are risking so much to help those in need. It bothers me that people could think this is all a media hoax when the evidence is literally stacking up (like the bodies in the morgue). It also irks me, perhaps most of all, because I suffered through this terrible virus — maybe not a version that had me on a ventilator, but a version that, nonetheless, made me wary and taught me that a sense of invincibility is dangerous.

Boris Johnson demonstrated this type of hubris. He dismissed the virus as a minor inconvenience. He shook hands with as many people as he could and talked a great deal about how allowing it to spread through the U.K. would create herd immunity. Next thing you know he’s in the I.C.U. with breathing issues. Underestimate this virus at your own peril.

Many think there is no way they will get sick. Or, that if they get sick, they will be able to handle it. But that’s not how Covid-19 works. Many perfectly healthy young people are dying. Don’t go out in protest in groups and get more people killed. To hell with professional haircuts! Instead of the gym, work out at home! Be smart! Be safe!

As for the symptoms, they are nothing like the flu. Does the flu give you skull-crushing headaches that last for days? Does the flu make it difficult for you to breath? Does the flu force you to take high doses of Prednisone on multiple occasions and take two asthma medications and still feel — at various points — like you were not going to survive? Does the flu give you such intense shortness of breath that you feel like you just ran a marathon when all you did was get up from the couch? Does the flu make your chest hurt to the point where you wonder if you’re having a heart attack? Does the flu accelerate your heart rate to crazy levels when you didn’t exert yourself in any way? Does the flu give you fevers that last a month? Does the flu make you so weak you eventually pass out? Does the flu force you to go to the E.R. because you don’t think you will survive?

These are all part of my experience with Covid-19. And, let me tell you, none of it was like the goddamn flu!

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Matt Nagin

Matt Nagin is a writer, comedian, actor, and educator. His latest book, “Do Not Feed The Clown,” is available on Amazon. More at mattnagin.com.