“The lessons of 1918, if well heeded, might help 

us to avoid repeating the same history today.”

-Stephen S. Morse

Image : cdc.gov

The 1918 Spanish flu affected nearly one third of the world’s population and is considered one of the deadliest pandemics. As social distancing gradually becomes our new “normal”, reflecting in the past reveals this is not the first time it has been practiced to save lives.

The origins of the virus remain unknown, however the first U.S cases were found in military camps in Kansas in 1918. From there on, it spread across the country despite measures being put into place. Cities such as New York, that went into quarantine early, had lower death rates. On the other hand, Philadelphia’s initial relaxed measures caused them to suffer a higher death peak. Face masks were heavily insisted, fines were even imposed upon coughing, sneezing, or spitting in public. Meanwhile, public gatherings were banned, and schools, churches, and shops closed. Cities such as San Francisco, that relaxed measures too early, saw another wave of deaths.

Several years later, the key to flattening a curve lies in the same actions. While today’s demographics have certainly changed, measures to combat a pandemic remain the same.