Coronavirus Chronicles — Strange Notions and Increasing Alarm

For some reason, America is currently rife with weird ideas spread by skeptics who are telling everybody that a normal, healthy person isn’t likely to catch COVID, and if they do, the illness will be trivial — and therefore, such persons do not need protective masks, social distancing, or any other precaution — not even vaccination.

None of this is necessarily true. For starters, “normal” and “healthy” are not synonyms. As insurance companies are happy to prove, almost everyone has some kind of pre-existing condition that can be implicated, to limit the financial relief they are eligible for when a medical emergency occurs. “Normal,” in most cases, means suffering from some chronic health problem that can be conveniently blamed for whatever else happens.

The odds are worsening

Apparently, the most recent World Health Organization numbers are from five years ago, but rest assured, they can only have gotten worse since then. Of adults who inhabit the globe, at least 40% are overweight and 13% qualify as obese. Now look at children under five years of age: somewhere around 40 million are overweight or obese. Of kids aged five to 19, at least 340 million are overweight or obese. With totals like these, the word “normal” starts to lose its significance and takes on a new meaning.

What does the Centers for Disease Control say about the stats in the USA? That institution defines at least 42% of adults as obese, along with about 20% of children and adolescents. As we have seen, the coronavirus has a special affinity for obese human bodies. COVID deniers love to point out that catching the virus is a person’s own fault. If they didn’t choose to be obese, they wouldn’t have that problem. How this disdain is deserved by obese kids who have no dominion over their own diets or lifestyles, is not evident.

There is another flaw in this reasoning, which is that healthy, fit people seem to be coming down with COVID all over the place. Every day, we see horror stories. People write to social media about, for instance, a previously healthy, fit 28-year-old son who allegedly recovered from COVID more than a year ago, but “can barely work.”

Doctors utilize social media

Many physicians and other health care professionals welcome the opportunity to share their observations, predictions, and fears via social media. For instance, toward the end of 2020, a very upset doctor was deeply affected by seeing a married couple die from COVID; a couple who had recently hosted 30 people for Thanksgiving dinner. This is the stuff of nightmares.

Emergency medicine physician Cleavon Gilman, of Arizona, passes along reports about apparently healthy children and young people who survived COVID, or succumbed to it, and sometimes you have to wonder which is worse. Dr. Gilman uses his Twitter account to spread the word about such patients as a fit, basketball-playing 19-year-old: “He had a small cough. Two days later he died from COVID in his sleep.” The doctor himself had a cousin, a gym teacher and semipro football player, who died at age 27:

Sent home from twice the ER for chest pain, diagnosed with anxiety, he suddenly collapsed and died from COVID… He finally got a test at the coroner.

Dr. Gilman memorializes the lost, like 18-year-old high school senior Manuela Estefany Espinoza, who “passed away from COVID on May 12, 2020. She was accepted to 20 universities.” He notes the tentatively, temporarily saved, like the 24-year-old vaccine refuser in Georgia who went to an indoor concert in April, caught the virus, and ended up with a double lung transplant.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Key facts,”, 06/09/21
Source: “Adult Obesity Facts,”, undated
Image by Jernej Furman/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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