Learner-Shaped Technology

March 24, 2020

Lessons from 1918

Filed under: general — Tags: , , — Mike W @ 9:01 pm

After reading this article about how different cities handled the 1918-19 flu pandemic, I decided to get the data graph it. You can see the impact, and the result of St. Louis and San Francisco letting their guard down too early—despite stronger responses in the early phases.  It appears SF likely overestimated the effectiveness of masks in preventing the spread of this particular virus.

I realize the that virus and Covid-19 are different, but perhaps there’s still a lesson to be learned from history.

Philadelphia (1918) – It’s just like the regular flu. Just keep your feet dry and your bowels open. We’re not canceling the parade.

St. Louis (1918) – This is serious. Avoid crowds. Treat people in their homes if possible. Act early.

San Francisco (1918) – This is serious. Implement social distancing. Wear masks.  

Data source below:

Collins, S. D., Frost, W. H., Gover, M., & Sydenstricker, E. (1930). Mortality from influenza and pneumonia in 50 large cities of the United States, 1910-1929. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Michigan Publishing, University Library, University of Michigan.

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