Although there is still much we don't know about the coronavirus, we know enough to say that it is far more dangerous and deadly than the flu. It took twelve months and 61 million infections for the H1N1 swine flu to kill 12,500 Americans in 2009-10. The Centers for Disease Control estimated that the seasonal flu killed 34,200 Americans during the 2018-19 flu season. In 2019, car crashes killed 38,800 Americans.
As for the new coronavirus? On March 20, the death toll in the United States was 225. By April 20, the coronavirus had killed more than 42,000 Americans.
Last week The New Atlantis produced a chart that starkly portrays just how quickly COVID-19 became one of the leading causes of death in the United States:
Why "it's not as bad as flu" — or car crashes or the 1957 pandemic — is not credible.
— Ari Schulman (@AriSchulman) April 13, 2020
Despite the rapidity with which the coronavirus has killed tens of thousands of Americans, some on the right have continued to argue that the pandemic will end up being no more serious than a bad flu season. On Fox News last week, Bill Bennett said that "we're going to have fewer fatalities from this than from the flu." He pointed to the fact that the IMHE model from the University of Washington estimated that COVID-19 would most likely kill about 60,000 Americans and that the seasonal flu killed 61,000 Americans in 2017-18, a particularly bad flu season.