Covid-19 v The Spanish Flu: Why we need to pay close attention to the similarities

Covid-19 v The Spanish Flu: Why we need to pay close attention to the similarities

As demonstrations and protests have run rampant across the country, many seem to have forgotten that the Covid-19 pandemic is still very much a part of everyday life. As hundreds/thousands of people have gathered in large groups to rightfully protest the brutal death of George Floyd, our attention has turned away. This is ok. We understand that voices absolutely need to be heard to challenge this behavior. But we need to remember this one thing regarding the pandemic:

NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

For weeks now I have watched as cities and states have reopened for business. As I have been temporarily residing in Florida, I see everything opened around me. One would think that everything is back to normal. Not me. I am, as many others should be, staying at home. The reason being?

NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

Back in 1918 the the Spanish Flu followed this same path in the US. This morning after reading the attached article, written by Dr. Howard Markel, Director for the History of Medicine at The University of Michigan Medical School, I realized that we are most definitely headed in the same direction as they were back then. Because instead of learning from this and knowing a spike is completely preventable we continue to reopen and move forward as though there is a cure or a vaccine. Let me  remind you:

NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

Believe me, as I continue to be unemployed after my business of 22 years was completely shattered by this virus, I understand how badly we all want to get back to work. To resume some sense of normalcy. Last week I was driving down through the city we are living in and it was as though there never had been a virus. It was eerie to me - all the restaurants were open (I could only see the outdoor seating areas) and they were packed. The only people wearing masks were the servers who when encountering their unmasked patrons, are putting themselves in danger. Many people have returned to work because they have no choice and I understand that fully. However, anything above and beyond what is a MUST do, should be all that we are doing. Because:

NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

In the article I attached, after a time of social distancing during the Spanish Flu, there was pressure to stop doing it. Pressure to get things reopened, much like today. When the virus seemed to peak, people behaved as they are now: no more masks, things began to reopen and life resumed. Kids went back to school, bars reopened, etc. And then the cases rose. And rose. And rose. And in October of that year, nearly 200,000 people died from it in the US alone. IN ONE MONTH. And why?

NOTHING HAD CHANGED.

So here we are. It's summer and people are tired of feeling like caged animals. I get it. But as things are reopening, cases are starting to climb again. Not a surprise! Florida saw its largest one day increase this week since mid April.

So, here's the thing - I'm not saying that everything should close again - I'm saying that if we were all really in this together and followed the rules ie: masks (I hate wearing a mask but I feel it is my duty to protect myself AND others), social distancing, sanitizing, washing hands, etc. we may be able to exist in a semi normal (new normal) capacity until there is a cure. This quote from the article particularly struck me:

"As we ponder how to best rescind social distancing measures and return to normal life today, we must work from the premise that as long as this deadly virus stalks the planet, longer is better than shorter. These measures are imperfect and slow to work. They are disruptive and painful to our daily lives and economy. They do not magically end pandemics. But they can save lives."

So, next time you refuse to wear a mask because it is your civil right not to, next time you complain that you want to go out to dinner or go hang at bars, have large gatherings or walk right up next to a total stranger and stand next to them, try to remember this:

NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

And until we all realize the truth in that, this will go on for a long, long time.

 

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