November Council Message by Ken Suer
So far, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the world and our country. It is bad, and it may get worse before getting better. Everyone in Montgomery has been affected in some way; however, my grandparents experienced something even worse…
- The 1918-1919 influenza pandemic during WWI was the most severe in recent history.
- 675,000 Americans died of influenza during the pandemic, ten times as many as in the war. Of the U.S. soldiers who died in Europe, half fell to the virus and not to the enemy.
- WWI killed some 20 million people worldwide. The 1918-1919 flu killed between 50 and 100 million worldwide. The toll of history’s worst pandemic surpasses all the military combat deaths in WWI & WWII combined.
- Back then, there was no flu vaccine or antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections.
- They didn’t even know it was a virus. Viruses weren’t discovered until the 1930s because they didn’t have powerful enough microscopes. As a result, testing wasn’t just hard to come by. It simply didn’t exist.
- In many places, only the rich could afford to visit a doctor.
- Aspirin was a standard “treatment,” but many people died from toxic doses.
- Control efforts at the time included isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations on public gatherings. Sound familiar?
- Victims died within hours or days of developing symptoms, their skin turned blue, and their lungs filled with fluid causing suffocation.
- Bodies piled up as the massive deaths of the pandemic ensued. Besides the lack of healthcare workers and medical supplies, there was a shortage of coffins, morticians, and gravediggers. In many places, mass graves were dug by steam shovels and bodies buried without coffins.
- The flu took a heavy toll, wiping out entire families. Funeral parlors were overwhelmed. Many people had to dig graves for their own family members.
How is Montgomery doing right now compared to all of this?
- For some families, the pandemic may well have been tragic already. For others, coping is difficult and disruptive. For yet others, perhaps it is so far just an inconvenience.
- Our business community overall seems to be surviving, but there are certainly companies that are struggling to stay afloat.
- The schools are functioning but definitely altered.
- The City has had to cancel some large events but has managed to provide other events with success, such as the Reverse Parade on July 4.
- City services are maintained, and we are not laying off employees.
- Projects like the Montgomery Quarter, the Roundabout, and others are proceeding according to plan.
No one knows what the future holds, but right now, Montgomery is in pretty good shape overall – despite the pandemic. So, keep up the social distancing, hand washing, and mask-wearing. Avoid large gatherings. Don’t be a “covidiot.” Let’s keep Montgomery as healthy as possible!