Littlefield: Take care of yourself in this unprecedented time

By Bob Littlefield
Posted 3/24/20

Last week Kathy and I called for the mayor and council majority to follow the recommendations of the medical community to close restaurants and bars to on-premises service.

We urged Kathy’s …

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Littlefield: Take care of yourself in this unprecedented time


Last week Kathy and I called for the mayor and council majority to follow the recommendations of the medical community to close restaurants and bars to on-premises service.

We urged Kathy’s colleagues to step up to the plate and act immediately to contain the spread of the virus.

While that didn’t happen fortunately the governor overrode the mayor and issued an executive order requiring restaurants in Arizona counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases (which includes Maricopa County) to provide dine-out options only, and that all bars, gyms and movie theaters in those counties must close.

Most readers reacted positively to our call. But several asked a very pertinent question, “why are we taking these drastic (and costly) measures when we don’t do the same every year for the regular seasonal flu?”

So, I want to let everyone know what the medical community has to say about the differences between the two diseases.

The first and most obvious difference is the immunity level of the general population. Every year tens of millions of Americans get flu shots, so there is a tremendous reservoir of immunity to the seasonal flu.

Currently there is no vaccine for COVID-19, and no human immune system had seen this virus before November, so no human has any natural immunity to it.

Bottom line, the immunity level of the general population to COVID-19 is zero.

Some other differences:

  • While the exact death rate is not yet clear, the evidence so far does show the disease kills a larger proportion of people than the flu, and it’s particularly lethal for people older than 80. Seasonal flu kills 30,000 to 60,000 Americans every year and the last thing we need is an additional, possibly even higher, death toll from COVID-19.
  • It takes one to 14 days for people with COVID-19 infection to develop symptoms (five days is the median). For the flu, it’s around two days. That potentially gives people more time to spread the illness asymptomatically before they know they are sick.
  • While about 2% of flu victims require hospitalization approximately 19% of COVID-19 patients require hospitalization. This threatens to overwhelm our health care system, especially when you consider the COVID-19 patients will be in addition to the flu patients hospitals already have to care for.

With these facts in mind it makes sense to implement some limited “social distancing” measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Yes, these measures will have a negative impact on businesses --- Kathy and I are already personally feeling the pain in my flight instruction business and in my campaign for mayor, where social distancing has made fundraising and collecting signatures on my nominating petitions extremely difficult. But an overwhelmed health care system and thousands of needless deaths would be far worse.

So, until the medical community gets a better handle on preventing and treating COVID-19 I believe we should take reasonable and limited measures to slow the spread of this disease.

The COVID-19 pandemic has suddenly changed the way all of us look at things.

Those parts of our lives that are most important to us --- family and friends --- have taken the front row center stage over all those things we previously may have stressed about but now somehow don’t seem quite so important.

To that end, both Kathy and I ask that you take care of yourselves, be safe, and stay healthy.

For additional authoritative information regarding COVID-19 go to

Editor’s Note: Bob Littlefield is a former three-term Scottsdale City Councilman and is running for Mayor. He can be reached by email at, and his web site is