Comparing Covid of today to the Spanish Flu of yesterday
Looking at the commonalities of two pandemics and what history can teach us
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - University of Wyoming professor of History Emeritus Phil Roberts wrote a piece on the 100th anniversary of the Spanish Flu. Teased for his interest, most didn’t understand the value of studying a hundred years ago pandemic. That incident happened two years before the coronavirus hit.
Today we’ll look at the commonalities between the Spanish Flu and the current pandemic.
By the end of World War One, 20 million people had died in battle. The Spanish Flu, on the other hand, had taken 50 million people globally.
Spanish Flu or H1N1 was a global epidemic that hit Wyoming hardest during the second of its three-wave cycle.
The first wave arrived in April of 1918, infecting soldiers abroad with mysterious flu-like symptoms that led to bacterial pneumonia, causing death.
There was no vaccine.
“Boy if people would have had a vaccine in those days I’m sure there would have been people in Wyoming lining up.”
The second wave hit Wyoming the hardest in the Fall of 1918.
Moving through railroad workers and soldiers. Targeting 20 to 40-year-olds, people who caught it typically died three days later.
The 180,000 Wyoming population saw 780 people die in a 6 month period.
“We lost in total about 500 soldiers and sailors in WW1, and so there were people who died of the Spanish Flu then died in action.”
Connected to soldier’s travel patterns returning to their hometowns. The third wave hit the Winter of 1919, targeting the Basin and Northern Wyoming.
“They were able to testify personally to what they saw and were able to sufficiently worry people about what could happen to you.”
People used hospital gauze masks for mask mandates were instated. Businesses allowed only 5 customers to a store with a 15-foot distance between them.
County Health authorities canceled Churches, Schools, Universities, War Drives, Unions meetings, and counties fairs.
“Their advice seemed at times very strict and harmful at least for the short-term, but for the long term it pulled us through.”
Health authorities told people with any signs of illness to stay home. Mass quarantines lasted from February of 1919 till the following Fall when the sickness finally disappeared.
“Rely on science, rely on Public Health people to guide us through this, in order to get us to the other side with the least damage possible.”
For more information on Mr. Roberts’s article, click here.
For more information on Covid compared to the Flu, click here.
For more information on Covid compared to other pandemics (H1N1, Ebola), click here.
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