T Nation

"It's Just the Flu, Bro!"

I’ve read many social-media posts and some articles in which the coronavirus is undermined, I believe. Some people have said it’s “the flu”, as in the flu we are familiar with. I’ve been working in hospitals and nursing homes for over fifteen years. Never before have I heard of or observed the death rates in facilities my friends and I work in.

So far, my old place of work has had 54 deaths in four weeks amongst residents/patients and two amongst staff. In the five years I worked there, I estimate we had zero to two deaths per month. Not all of the deaths were confirmed covid cases, but some were. I don’t believe this is a coincidence, as if Spring came, and poof, 56 people drop dead from illness. A former co-worker from that place has the virus and he said some time ago he thought he was going to die and was about to write a farewell letter. Yes, he has a pre-existing condition, hypertension, but that is all, and he is not a senior citizen.

And a similar situation is going on in my current place of work. There are several confirmed cases, and I believe several more will occur because of exposure. So far we’ve had more deaths in a weekend than typically happens in a few months.

I have read or heard all sorts of stuff, which I don’t believe is true, nor do I think the people spewing such messages are correct. Actually, I don’t know who is correct. “It only affects old people.” “If you’re heathy, your chance of dying is zero.” “It’s just the flu bro.” “The death rate was overestimated.” “It’s no more contagious than the flu.” “Every year, people die from strains of the flu.”

OK, my question is, if I’ve been working in healthcare for fifteen years, and gone through plenty of flu seasons, why have I not observed such a death and illness rate unit this year?! Is this a coincidence?

This whole situation seems surreal.


Hear a lot of eejits saying “it’s basically just the flu” or how the response to Covid-19 is too much etc.

Yes, I remember last flu season when newspapers had to print 15 pages of obituaries.


I don’t really disagree with you. This is not the typical flu. However, the current total death estimate is around 60k (could change it was much higher). If that is the end result then purely from a numbers perspective it will be in line with the 2017-2018 flu (810k hospitalizations & 61k deaths), which admittedly was the worst season in a decade.

The strange thing (and biggest difference) seems to be the distribution of infections and deaths. NY has been absolutely crushed, but quite a few places have little to nothing going on. It’s a very strange and emotional situation for everyone.

Right. As you know I’m in

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Ya, you guys are definitely taking a beating on this. It will be interesting to see how NY adjusts for future pandemics (if you guys even can). Nursing homes need to make some changes as well. I don’t know the numbers off hand, but I know a handful of nursing homes have been hit hard in MD and account for a good portion of our death toll.

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It does, @BrickHead…and I’m with you.

Not only are people pushing the narrative that it’s “just flu”…but that flu is worse

Something about this thing is so much worse…and that is not just media driven. I also have never seen such a concentrated number of deaths in such a short period of time, even during the H1N1.

I don’t know the answer…but “it’s not as bad as the flu…you should be pissed!” is not the answer.

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The thing is we know a lot about the flu. We know the months it subsides. We have shots for it. Hospitalizations and deaths over time are fairly predictable. The hospitalization rate is small compared to Corona. The thing is we didn’t know shit about this in the beginning and even though we know far more now, we still don’t know much. We don’t know the best way to treat this and the hospitalization rate and death rate are higher.

The comparisons to the flu right now are ignorant. Seasonal flu is different than a pandemic flu. A pandemic flu from what I’ve read would be a better comparison to Coronavirus.

With the minimum testing done all our numbers are complete shit anyways. And this is all on the midst of essentially a worldwide mitigation method. What would the hospitalization and death rate be for the seasonal flu if we did this?

We are well prepared to handle the seasonal flu and we know a lot about it. We don’t have a big fear of hospitals being overran from it. Always a possibility, but year in and year out no way. We can’t be well prepared for this at this point. We will eventually.


I think people also need to remember some people have a very different perspective because of how COVID 19 has affected them. If you don’t personally know someone that has it or that has died from it, but you’re one of the 22M Americans that lost their job of course you’re going to be angry and look for any rationalization to open things back up. From that perspective a “flu like” virus has only hurt you and many others monetarily.

Think about it like this:

.24% of the US population has a confirmed case of COVID-19
6.7% of the total population has lost their job, but labor participation is only 62ish%, which means more than 10% of workers have lost their job.

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I reject the premise that it is flu like in the least bit. At least not in terms of our ability to handle it and understand it at this point. I also think it’s worth considering that buying the time we have may lead to less economic impact in the long run. No crystal balls and all that, but we don’t know that if we had let the virus run rampant that the economic impacts would be lower.

It’s at least possible that the best thing for the economy long term is exactly what we’re doing. It’s always going to be easy to look at the short term effects since they are right in our face.

I put it in quotes because that is the justification people use to re-open/get their job back.


Opinion Piece from a Doctor whose career was intubating people

Stay well, Brick.


Thank you!

Right on both counts. I think the causes behind the distribution profile of this will keep researchers busy for years.

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The issue I have with it is the ridiculous skew in testing. The “mortality rates” published are not death/infected, it’s death/hospitalized because only serious and critical people are tested. Since 80% of people are mild and who knows how many are asymptomatic, this means the “death rate” being presented is just massively overstated. While we can’t know exactly how many people are mild or asymptomatic, it could very well put the true mortality rate at 0.1%-0.4%. Let’s call a spade a spade, this has been a wonderful excuse for the government to grab even more power.

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As much as I’m frustrated with these people, this is an excellent point. The vast majority of people live and die by anecdotal evidence and experience. This is actually the precise reason that scientists aren’t “common”… they don’t do that as much. And frankly, it’s one reason many people can’t relate or tend to ignore science: their experience doesn’t jive with what they’re hearing.

It’s a bad mistake to make with many things, particularly a virus, but it’s honestly understandable. You don’t live life in a study, you live life “out there” in your circle of friends, town, community.


While this is true, it is also the only data we have at present. You can’t “guesstimate” these, and this is 100% inevitable for a brand new virus or any kind. too many unknowns. You can also thank the dearth of testing and lack of surveillance for further loss of insight.

Maybe maybe not. To some degree this is true with the early numbers because tests were so scarce, but the confirmed numbers by now in the States include many tens of thousands that were not hospitalized–drive thru tests came back positive but they never visited the hospital. This trend will only increase as testing becomes more available.

Again, you can’t make decisions based on guesstimating. You can accept that numbers aren’t fully accurate, but you can’t fly completely blind.

Gray area sucks, but you have to use the hard numbers available and push for more documented information.

That is possible but highly unlikely based on what we know right now. Sorry.


Have you seen the studies out of Santa Clara? Basically they’re finding Covid19 infected people might be 50-80x higher than initially thought. If that’s indeed the case, the denominator for mortality rates is moving up big time and that would certainly put the mortality rate under 0.3%.

In the County in NC where I used to live, and still own property, there are 4 confirmed cases. I know two of them personally. I can assure you, there are a lot more than 4 cases in that County, as other people that were in contact with my two friends certainly caught it and were not ABLE to get tested. Not didn’t try, or didn’t want to, didn’t manage to talk someone into it. The numbers are a joke.