What does 100,000 deaths feel like?

To me, it is not the number — 100,000 Americans dead — nor the speed, since Feb. 6 in Santa Clara County, Calif.

The CDC reported a record high 80,000 deaths from the plain old flu in 2017.

Presidents playing golf are an easy target. (Photo: Palm Beach Post)

Were you aware of that number? I wasn’t, perhaps because it was recorded over many months and did not swamp medical facilities nor send out panicked cries for PPE — which we now know stands for personal protection equipment.

Over the past couple of days, I heard the term “grim milestone” from more journalists than I care to think about as they prepared to report on the (ahem) mounting deaths. 

The Left tied it to a story on President Donald J. Trump playing golf, days before we reached the “grim milestone,” as if him staying home would stop the deaths. The Right played the same stupid game when President Barack Obama played golf after announcing  the murder of American hostage James Foley in 2014, as if not playing golf would return Foley to life like Lazarus.

Maybe it’s got something to do with golf, regarded (by some) as a game played by the elites, by men and women who have  other people carry their bags, which should not be allowed. Ditto golf carts. You’re out there (supposedly) to exercise? Then exercise your fat ass.

So what does 100,000 look like? Brian Williams’ MSNBC show mis-named “The 11th Hour” (it is on at 11 p.m., which is the 23rd hour), came up with a graphic showing the number of 737s it would take to carry 100,000 people and the screen gets filled with 600 tiny aircraft silhouettes.

I know the producers want to make it seem like a lot, but couldn’t they have shown, say, two Yankee Stadiums or 17 Radio City Music Halls? 

The Philadelphia Inquirer runs an occasional page with featurized obits of about a half-dozen deceased. Most are elderly, who don’t seem to have been cut off in their prime. The New York Times pulled a tabloid trick a couple of days back and ran 1,000 names of deceased Americans on its front page. 

Why them? Why 1,000? Why not all 100,000? 

That would be a gimmick. So was 1,000. 

There is a parallel problem when discussing the Holocaust. How do you picture 6 million Jews? 6 million people are no longer people, they are something else. Then there were another 6 million or so murdered — Catholics, gypsies, Poles, the physically and mentally disabled, gays, Russians.

It’s not the raw numbers. I know of a couple of people who had the virus, but they did not die. If a friend or relative of yours dies, that one will hit you harder than 100,000 strangers.

And while they may have died of the virus, why does that matter? My mother and father are both gone. Did it matter what killed them or why? 

To me, no. 

In the mortuary sweepstakes, several yardsticks were used by the media, like when the deaths exceeded 9/11 levels, then those dead in Afghanistan and Iraq. And then Vietnam. Next stop would be World War II, with 416,000, then the Civil War — 620,000.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and count our chickens before they are dispatched.

It’s not the quantity of the COVID-19 deaths.

It’s the quality.

Family aren’t allowed to visit dying patients. They can’t say goodbye, not in person. They can’t hold a hand as life slips away. 

There can be no proper funeral, no symbolic sendoff for the voyage to the next world. 

It is empty and bitter.

And that is the worst thing to be said about the pandemic. 

19 thoughts on “What does 100,000 deaths feel like?”

  1. HAPPY WEDNESDAY !!!
    Stu,
    I think you really blew it this time, pallie. You are mixing too many variables and trying to condense them into one topic, “Acceptable losses”.
    Apples and oranges: Trump and Obama: I guess those are good pictures of golfing. I don’t know golf. I chased soccer balls. Big difference here is President Trump finally gets out of the White House for a few hours. You do know that the man needs little sleep and works 7 days a week, with long days ( Hmmm, maybe that’s why he’s a Billionaire ) The President is part of every issue that is current. He sits in “thee chair” when trouble is taking place, and he commits to the solution. Unlike other Presidents in the past. Here is Obama golfing. Maybe he was golfing when Mr Foley was “beheaded”.
    Over the years, as you point out, an obituary list has appeared on the front page of many a paper. I never thought that it was to honor the dead, be it, 911, the Iraq War, Vietnam or any of the other huge losses. Back in time, “acceptable losses” in war was the norm. “Cannon Fodder” was the term used by the grunts that fought those wars. The truth in war or conflict, is that warriors fight and some die. It’a a fact of life. Is it acceptable ? Guess it is, since it still goes on.
    PANDEMIC: As usual, the government stepped up and did what they do best. Pat them selves on the back. It was/will be found out that the United States was totally unprepared for this virus, going so far as to originally dismissing it. As the victims died, their losses were not felt because of the lack of mourning, courtesy of the government. Truth be told, burials never stopped. In PA, it was “suggested” that the services and burial be limited to the immediate family. The total number of deaths, sorry to say, is still being calculated. 10, 100, 1,000, 10,000, 100,000 doesn’t matter when it hits close to home. Sad to say, we will find out that although the number is far less than anticipated, it never should have been as high as it will be. The “normal” flu season takes it toll every year, and life goes on, because we accept these losses. Maybe you do, but I sure don’t !

  2. Stu – your last few lines say it all, especially the last two (the “empty and bitter” part). I can say that from personal experience at this point having just gone through this with my mother. The rest of your comments can be distilled into the infamous line of the news industry: “If it bleeds, it leads.”

  3. Josef Stalin said, “One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.” The corona virus, as with all other diseases, is nature’s way of thinning the herd, and strengthening those that remain/survive. And nature’s way is neither good nor evil; it just is. The “100,000 dead” number is meaningless — a statistic — to the vast majority of us; it is important and painful only to those whose family or friends have been affected. Nature’s randomness is evident in my own family. I cannot explain why a sister dies at age 48 but our father and mother live to 100 and 94, respectively. Finally, I am unsure, Stu, what you mean by ‘we accept these losses.’ In reality do we have a choice?

      1. Well, to be accurate, I quoted what you wrote, but did not imply that to be your belief. But I do wonder about the ‘we’ who accept these losses. My question stands: do we have a choice?

  4. Thank you, Stu, for the reality check!

    It is comforting to know that we are not alone in thinking that the “cure” is worse than the disease.

    Let’s get back to work and back to living!

  5. This says it all.You hit the nail on the head.

    It’s not the quantity of the COVID-19 deaths.

    It’s the quality.

    Family aren’t allowed to visit dying patients. They can’t say goodbye, not in person. They can’t hold a hand as life slips away.

    There can be no proper funeral, no symbolic sendoff for the voyage to the next world.

    It is empty and bitter.

    And that is the worst thing to be said about the pandemic

  6. It’s still only 99,123 officially……believe me…..I’ve been checking it every day so I can mark the moment it breaks 100k…..It must be slowing down….the last 5k have been crawling to the line. Underreporting or waiting for the Big re-opening spike? I really hope it is slowing 🙏🙏🙏🙏

      1. Vince,
        a little humor never hurts
        1500 hours, 29 May 2020
        is Las Vegas giving odds
        Tony

        1. two questions, Tom
          1) Muss ich am Leben sein, um zu sammeln?
          2) keine Ursache. Wenn ich tot bin, spielt es keine Rolle
          Tony

          1. Uh, Talk to you later. Have to go out and feed the critters.😁 Parlez vous anglais, mon ami?
            Tom

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