The 1918 influenza pandemic
is one of the most severe pandemics in recent history.
It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is no universal consensus regarding where the virus came from, it spread worldwide from 1918-1919.
In the US, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918.
Some estimates suggest that as many as 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was considered to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.
As the tweet started to go viral, more and more people began responding to it
Social distancing saved thousands of American lives during the Spanish flu outbreak
. Philadelphia, for example, detected its first case of a deadly, fast-spreading strain of influenza on September 17, 1918. The very next day, in an attempt to halt the virus’ spread, city officials launched a campaign against coughing, spitting, and sneezing in public. Good start. 10 days later, however, despite the potential epidemic, the city hosted a parade that 200,000 people attended.
Flu cases continued to climb until finally, on October 3, schools, churches, theaters, and public gathering spaces were closed.
Two weeks after the first reported case, there were at least 20,000 of them.
For comparison, when a case popped up in St. Louis, the city shut down most public gatherings and quarantined victims in their homes just two days later.
By the end of the pandemic, the death rate in St. Louis was less than half of the rate in Philadelphia.
About 358 people per 100,000 died in St Louis, while there were about 748 deaths per 100,000 people in Philadelphia.
It’s pretty saddening to see that while technology and medicine have made huge leaps since the beginning of the 20th century, our mindsets have somewhat remained the same, and we can’t come together to fight this microscopic yet very powerful enemy.