The Old People’s Virus

Whenever I read a story about populations, no matter what the story is, I want to know the specifics of the demographics of the story. So on the day when we surpassed the 500,000 mark of deaths due to Covid, I wondered if there was a breakdown somewhere about the specifics of that particular population.

Turns out there is. The CDC is tracking all that information. While it wasn’t completely up-to-date, having only the information on 460,224 deaths, it is current enough to consider.

If you are a male who gets Covid, you are more likely to die. The number of men who have died from Covid at the time of the CDC report was 250,660 compared to 209,564 women. I’d wager the reason why men are more likely to die from Covid than women is because of the male’s reluctance to seek medical help.  It could just be a cultural thing. We put too much pressure on men to tough things out, rather than encouraging them to seek help.

There have been 45 children ages 1 and under who have died from Covid, 30 males and 15 females. So that blows my whole theory on why males are more likely to die than females. Surely, parents are just as likely to seek help for their infant boy child as their infant girl child. Obviously, medical science isn’t my strong suit. I don’t know why gender plays a part in the number of deaths by Covid.

But the disparity holds up even as the children age. Among males 15-24, 390 have died compared to 258 females. And this disparity continues well into adulthood. Among males ages 35-44, there have been 5,075 deaths, compared to 2,636 women. That’s almost double the ratio. Sorry men.

By now we all know that age plays a factor in deaths due to Covid. The older a person is, the less likely they are to survive Covid. For those of us in the 55-64 age range, there have been 34,624 males who have died compared to 19,509 women. For those 65-74, the disparity continues: 60,719 males vs. 38,297 females. In fact, the only time the gap changes is in the over 85 age range: 61.674 men vs. 84,541 women. I suspect that is because the odds for men making it to age 85 is already lower than women. There just aren’t as many men still around. But don’t take my word for it; I’ve already proven that I’m not very good at wagering.

Our governor, following President Biden’s direction, ordered flags to be flown at half-mast in remembrance of a grieving nation. I watched as CNN’s Brianna Keilar broke down while reporting on all these deaths. She is not the first journalist I’ve witnessed crying this past year over this pandemic. I wept along with Keilar. Half-a-million people are dead from a pandemic that our former president sought to politicize, in fact, did politicize.

I wonder how many lives would have been saved had Trump only embraced mask-wearing and encouraged others to? someone asked on Twitter.

About half of that half-million, I suggested.

A friend of mine stopped by a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Florida today and took a photo of my dad’s name. Gary Nelson was there with his 94-year-old father. When I think of the number dead from Covid, I imagine what such a wall would look like with all their names on it. To inscribe every name a Covid Wall would be 8 1/2 times the length of the current Vietnam Memorial Wall. It would run from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument. Maybe further.

Our city did not lower their flags today. I don’t know if they will tomorrow. Someone posted on our governor’s page that they thought it was dumb to lower the flags because it was mostly old people dying anyway. I had to wonder if this was a person who thought lowering the flag for Rush Limbaugh was a good idea.

Throughout this year of the pandemic, I’ve heard Covid-deniers carrying on about how it’s just old people dying. Perhaps you’ve heard this, too? Of course this makes me just want to knock somebody into next Sunday. I know it’s partly because I am now in the over-60 category. It’s that time of life when I get more mail for funeral preparations and Preparation-H than I do for Botox and bikinis.

I recently read an article about a man who has lived into his 80s. Lucky fellow. The person interviewing him asked if he felt old, and he said no because he’s been the same age in his head all of his life. Our internal voice doesn’t age, he explained. It’s the same voice that’s talked to us our whole life long. I loved that because I know the truth of it. People in their 20s and 30s haven’t learned this yet. If they are fortunate enough to live into their 60s and 70s, they will come to know the truth of it.

But there’s an embedded message of those who are discounting the deaths due to Covid. That message is that the older you get, the less your life matters.

My father died at age 34. He never got to live to be in his 50s or 60s. I look at my friends who still have their moms and dads around and I wonder what that must be like, to have the companionship of a parent for that long.

I consider all those amazing people over 70 who I have long admired and who are still going strong, doing good works. The Jimmy and Rosalyn Carters of the world. The Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlins. The Sophia Loren and Paul McCartneys. The Maize Hirono and Bernie Sanders. The Steven King and Margaret Atwoods of the world.

I want to ask all those who dismiss Covid as an “old person’s” virus, which of them is willing to kill off Dolly Parton? Wasn’t John Prine sacrifice enough for them?

I guess what galls me even more than their utter lack of compassion and empathy is that these Covid-deniers are the same folks who carry around placards declaring “Life Begins at Conception.”

Yeah. And it apparently ends on your 55th birthday.

But as long as we are looking at demographics, let’s consider some these folks claim to care so much about –  the unborn.

These statistics also come from the CDC. The most current year available was 2018. During that year there was a total of 619,591 abortions reported. From 2009 to 2018, the number of abortions reported fell by 22%. Black and Hispanic women report the highest percentage of abortions and Whites the lowest. (Access to healthcare plays into that number, just as with Covid.) The majority of abortions – 92.2% – were performed at or before 13 weeks. Three-fourths of all abortions  – 77.7% – were performed at or before 9 weeks. While there is much politicization about late-term abortions, only 1% were reported to have taken place after 28 weeks.

Women between the ages of 20-30 had the most abortions. Unmarried women are by far the most likely to get an abortion – 85.2 percent of all abortions compared to the 14.8 percent of married women. New York and Florida reported the highest number of abortions – 77, 250 and 70,032 respectively. Oddly enough, these are the two states with the highest number of Covid deaths, too. Vermont and West Virginia had the lowest number – 1,202 and 1,507 respectively.

Just as with Covid, the CDC had some policy recommendations to address the abortion dilemma:

“The data in this report can help program planners and policymakers identify groups of women with the highest rates of abortion. Unintended pregnancy is a major contributor to induced abortion. Increasing access to and use of effective contraception can reduce unintended pregnancies and further reduce the number of abortions performed in the United States.”

Of course, as with Covid, too many people in the political and religious sectors simply want to inflame the issues for their own personal gain.

Their real interest is not in the unborn or the elderly, who lives or who dies.

That’s all just smoke-and-mirrors, babe. What they really and truly desire is to be is in power.

For these folks, God is nothing more than a product to hawk, along with all those Blessed t-shirts and Praise CDs and MAGA flags.

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Christian Bend (Mercer University Press).




Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.



about 2 years ago

Thanks for the insight into the numbers. I, too, am over 60 but not yet to 65 which means in this state I am not eligible for the vaccine, just yet. I wonder about the reasons for the late term abortion.


Karen Spears Zacharias

about 2 years ago

At 1 percent, I would imagine there are some pretty serious medical situations under consideration. Can't imagine how hard that must be. I've read some personal narratives, all involving crushing medical issues. Hope you get that vaccine soon.


Bert Bagley

about 2 years ago

Thank you for the article. I had heard that you would make us laugh and then zing us with truth...I found that to be so. There are many of us who have evangelical backgrounds who still proclaim and share the Good News but realize our actions of course are what matters. This retired clergy deep now into a different career centered on philanthropy looks forward to more nuggets of strong truth


Karen Spears Zacharias

about 2 years ago

Welcome to the community of zingers.



about 2 years ago



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