Mary Najarian

Mary Najarian


How can I keep quiet, and not talk about the Coronavirus? After all, I am a 86 year old retired nurse, and my husband is a 90 year old retired doctor. Combined, we have had over 85 years of experience in health care.

I think I should pass on to you what I know, and what my thoughts are about this coronavirus. By the way, they have fashionable names for it now: COVID-19, or still better yet Chinese virus..

Let me take you back 63 years. It was September of 1957 and I had arrived in Chicago from Beirut, Lebanon. Two days after my arrival, I started to work at Wesley Memorial Hospital in the Emergency room as part of my orientation.

I had only been working at the emergency room a little over ten days or so, when one of the co-workers touching my forehead said, “You have a fever. I bet you have the Asian-flu.”

I did not know what Asian-flu was, nor when and how I could have gotten it. They put me in a wheelchair and whisked me to the 5th floor of the hospital, where they were using the whole floor as an emergency care center for the doctors, nurses, and staff who had contracted the Asian flu.

I gave my name to the receptionist, who, after making several calls told me, “You have been working for only fifteen days, and your health coverage starts on October 16. You have not been with us 30 days yet, therefore you are not covered yet.”

The doctor checked my temperature and looked in my throat and advised me to go home and drink lots of fluid.

The forgotten 1957 Asian Flu that tested the global health system with one million dead

The forgotten 1957 Asian Flu that tested the global health system with one million dead

I walked the two blocks to my apartment. It seemed like the two bocks would never end, and I would never reach my apartment. But as soon as I got to my room, I threw myself on my bed, and I don’t remember what I ate or drank, and how long I slept. The only thing I still remember is one morning , perhaps the fourth or fifth day I woke up, and it was like a dream. My head ache was gone, and I had no pain, and I was hungry. I took a long shower, put on my uniform and went to work.

I had almost forgotten about the Asian-flu of 1957, until the coronavirus started blowing its horn . I want you to be the judge and compare the Asian-flu with the coronavirus.

THE ASIAN- FLU 63 years ago
It was September 1957.
The population of USA was 170 million.
No statistics were available as to how many people were infected with Asian-flu.
116,000 Americans in USA died from the Asian- flu that year.
Our president was Dwight Eisenhower.
He was not up for reelection.
He did nothing to prevent the spread of the Asian flu, and no one blamed him for it.
In 1957, they did not close the schools,
They did not stop gatherings,
They did not stop flights.
They did not close the borders.
They did not cut the interest rates.
They did not crash the stock market.

Coronavirus, “Covid 19”
It is March 2020.
The population in USA is 330 million,
26,000 Americans in USA have been diagnosed with the coronavirus .
To date 330 Americans mostly elderly have died, from corona virus, and we all know this is only the beginning.
But why these extreme measures now , and why nothing was done then in 1957?
Is an American citizen’s life less valuable then , than it is now?

This whole coronavirus issue is confusing.

Do people know what is happening to businesses? The airline industry, hotels, the travel industry, restaurants, the entertainment industry, the stock market?

An economist recently said on TV, “Coronavirus will not kill Americans, but the economy will.”

Could this have something to do with the upcoming election?

Is Trump scared that if he did not take these extreme measures, Democrats would have criticized him?

Already Joe Biden says, “If I were the president I would have done a lot more, and a lot sooner.” Bernie Sanders is still looking into the past, and trying to find out what his role- model, Fidel Castro would have done or has done in such a situation.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am scared too, and I am over-reacting and panicking like every one of you. Now in our older days, known as the “Golden Age,” my husband and I are prisoners in our own home. My children refuse to visit us, so that they won’t expose us to the virus. We are not allowed to leave the house for fear we might be in contact with someone who has the virus. My grandson who lived with us has moved out , afraid that he goes in and out of the house, he might bring the virus to us. Our food is brought by our children, dropped at the entrance, as they scurry away. Yes we are lonely, very lonely.

A life filled with loneliness and fear of death from coronavirus is a tough life to live.


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  1. Concerned healthcare provider said:

    Please stop this misinformation. The “Asian flu” and COVID-19 are incomparable with regards to lethality and long-term damage to the lungs and other tissues. We are in the beginning stages of this pandemic, and the death and morbidity count will likely skyrocket in the coming weeks. For you to trivialize 116,000 american deaths is worrisome; for you to point to 300 american deaths to date – when the number has since tripled, is a crime. Think about it once more. Since the writing of your editorial piece, the number of deaths has TRIPLED.
    When we’re done with this (and we will be), we may not reach the 116,000 death threshold – but that won’t be because it was a less worrisome or lethal virus. It will be because people chose to listen to scientists who spend their life studying pandemics, instead of listening to misinformed citizens who want to return to a life of normalcy.
    I am a healthcare professional who is on the frontlines of this pandemic. Open your eyes, look at the data, and don’t make me waste my time by rebutting your misinformation. This situation is unlike anything we have seen in modern times.

    • Mary Najarian said:

      World Health Organization, the United States Department of Infectious Diseases, should have learned from the Asian flu of 1957 which killed over one million people in the world. They should have learned from the past experience to be prepared and stockpiled portable Hospitals, beds, ventilators, definitely masks and gloves which do not take space and are most important items now as it was then. I am not underestimating the damage this virus is creating all around the world. No one knows how many will die, and how long it will last. It is too bad that there are still some people who are not taking this virus seriously. Yes, they are not gathering in restaurants and in banquet halls as they are closed, but they still are having get togethers in their homes. The latest I heard a baby shower just a week ago in a home with over 50 people. They know the danger of group gatherings, but they ignore it. They think it will not happen to them. I pray this will end soon and it teaches us a lesson.

  2. Viken said:

    Cheer up! It’s only temporary. Even the Black Plague didn’t last forever.
    But you said it yourself, in 1957 there were 116000 deaths from the flue. All they have to do is to freeze the economy for 2 months, especially mortgages and interests.

  3. Mary Najarian said:

    Thank you Ara for finding and posting the picture of the make shift hospital of the Asian flu sufferers of the 1957. We should have learned something from that experience and be well prepared and informed.

  4. sylva portoian,MD said:

    A beautiful medical life story, I enjoyed every sentence written …I will call stanzas…But this unethical paregraph shocked me …it is very inhumane …please read…Nurse Mary Najarian wrote:
    “I gave my name to the receptionist, who, after making several calls told me, “You have been working for only fifteen days, and your health coverage starts on October 16. You have not been with us 30 days yet, therefore you are not covered yet.”
    This is America, which will never and never happen anywhere else, bless NHS of UK; was created in 1948 everyone enjoys without any differentiation…
    This proves that American health system is extremely inhuman, unfair,
    needs urgent modification without any delay…
    we all are humans…we must die one day …
    Dr. Sylva Portoian​