Bring Out Your Dead

In Monty Python and the Holy Grail Eric Idle walks around shouting bring out your dead and pushing a cart. It’s a parody on the way death was treated during the Middle Ages and it’s set during the Black Death. It is meant to be funny and with my history degree, I always find it hysterical especially when John Cleese brings out someone “almost dead.” I think it’s less funny these days, as Italy struggles with the amount of dead from novel coronavirus.

Italian authorities banned funerals because they create crowds and Italy is struggling with the number of infected. The country is out of ventilators for the sick. Doctors and nurses are having to make decisions about who should get one of the precious machines because their chances of living are higher. The morgues and funeral homes are at capacity in multiple parts of the country and the dead aren’t being buried because they can’t have funerals. Italy’s health minister has questioned the “official” mortality and infection rate as being too low.

As barbaric as we think them, I foresee the return of plague pits in Spain and Italy. Where the number of infected and dead with Novel Coronavirus has surpassed the numbers that were coming out of China in January. They are losing healthy adults in their 30s and 40s with the same rapidity as the elderly. Italy has more than 7,000 dead just from coronavirus. Spain has lost 5,000 people. In the grand scheme these numbers seem low, but it happens so quickly. A person can go from mild symptoms on Thursday to needing a ventilator on Friday.

One of the cases where I live did that. They discovered they had the virus on Tuesday, they were in quarantine at home with mild symptoms. Wednesday they called emergency services and died before reaching the hospital. I read an article out of New Orleans about that very topic. People are coming in with moderate symptoms and within 24 hours they need a ventilator or they’ve already died. The majority of the patients in the article were in there 30s and 40s and relatively healthy before getting coronavirus.

I can’t help but wonder; has it mutated into something worse? Is Italy’s health minister correct? Has it become more infectious? Has it become more lethal? And will warmer weather really save us? Originally the answer to that question was “yes, warmer weather will help us”, novel coronavirus theoretically shares that characteristic with influenza it doesn’t survive warmth and sunlight, it’s why influenza is seasonal. But as cases rise in Australia and south America and the Mediterranean countries like Spain and Italy, warmer weather doesn’t seem to be slowing it down. Although numbers remain low in tropical areas like Central America. Yet, it’s doing fine in arid hot places like Turkey and Egypt. So, maybe it doesn’t like rain and warmth or maybe it does require three factors; rain, warmth, and sunshine like Belize and Honduras. Or is it the governmental response in Central America that has kept cases quite low?

I don’t know that anyone has the answers to these.

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