There are a lot of sniffles, sneezes and watery eyes happening around us right now, and it’s not the coronavirus. It’s springtime in Texas, and thousands of varieties of pollens and mold spores are wafting in the air all around us. I’ve always wondered why God took the most beautiful season of the year and made it the most miserable season for me.

As I sniff, sneeze and wheeze my way through this season, I worry that folks will confuse my symptoms with the coronavirus (COVID-19), and condemn me for being out spreading the disease in public.

I’ve been wondering over the past few weeks about how many other people have simple allergies, and think they may have the COVID-19 virus? How many people simply have a common cold? How many people have the flu?

Both the common cold and the flu reportedly have much more serious consequences than COVID-19. Both the common cold and the flu are reportedly more contagious than COVID-19.

According to the CDC website (cdc.gov), between Oct. 1, 2019 and Feb. 29, 2020, they estimated between 34 million and 49 million flu cases in the US, and between 20,000 and 52,000 deaths caused by the flu. Up to 52,000 people dead in less than 5 months! Fifty-two thousand! And they say this is a mild flu season. You really have a much bigger danger of dying from the flu than you do from the COVID-19 virus.

And the flu attacks the entire age spectrum. Unlike the flu, COVID-19 has yet to have a victim under 15 years of age anywhere in the world. Babies and teenagers actually die from the flu — Not so with COVID-19. The average age of a COVID-19 death is 80. We old people seem to be the ones with the targets on our backs.

I think extraordinary precautions should be taken at nursing homes and hospitals to protect the vulnerable. Apart from that, just use common sense. Wash your hands frequently. Don’t sneeze openly. Do a fist bump instead of shaking hands. Stay home if you are sick.

The problem with COVID-19 is that it is still such a mystery. I keep asking myself and others if we are overreacting. In the vast majority of cases, the symptoms are very mild, and barely noticeable. No worse than a cold. In virtually all the reported deaths, the victims were elderly and suffered from another serious disease.

Is it really worth spending billions of dollars and all these resources trying to contain this thing, all the while disrupting peoples’ lives and incinerating their retirement accounts? Do we really need to cancel public events, and stop traveling? Do we really need to destroy the economy?

As a public official, I take my responsibility for the health and safety of my constituents very seriously. I’m trying to stay informed and alert to all new developments in order to react in a rational manner if or when things start to go badly. So far, they haven’t.

I listen in on a daily COVID-19 conference call by the Texas Department of Health Services. Our emergency management personnel in both the city and county are all monitoring the situation, and are prepared to act in concert with the state and federal agencies. Our local and regional medical facilities are all briefed and prepared.

This country has survived in spite of being attacked by the Spanish Flu, the Bird Flu, the Swine Flu, and even Ebola. We’ve defeated Smallpox and Polio. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Tuberculosis, also known as Consumption, wiped out huge chunks of our population every year. COVID-19 is not even close to being that dangerous.

So, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, don’t sneeze or cough openly, and stay home if you are sick. Use common sense!

Gosh, I love this town!

Don Keil is the mayor of the city of Seguin and writes a monthly column which appears every third Sunday.

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