Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Pandemic of 1918-1920

Zanesville Times Recorder, October 4, 1919
We're in the midst of a pandemic, a global health crisis that requires us to think and act in different, often new ways. Covid-19 confounds us, inconveniences us, frightens us, and at its worst, kills us.

One hundred years ago, in March 1920, the dreaded (and misnamed) Spanish Influenza pandemic, that began in autumn 1918, came to an end. The flu ravaged every part of the globe for a year and a half, infecting 500 million people (one-third of the world's population) and killing at least 50 million. It came in three waves, with the second one (1919) being the deadliest.

We've seen a lot of images, and heard many news stories of the personal toll taken by today's novel coronavirus. Below are photos from around the world, and headlines from the Zanesville Times-Recorder, all from the period of the Great Influenza (a more accurate name than "Spanish Flu"), that are hauntingly familiar.

Police officers in Seattle, Washington, 1918
U.S. Navy corpsmen ready to receive influenza patients at U.S. Naval Hospital,
Mare Island, California, 1918

October 7, 1918

Japanese school girls wearing protective masks

Seattle streetcar conductor orders man to don mask
before boarding, 1918
October 10, 1918

While schools were closed, American schoolchildren made toys for war refugees

Serbian soldiers in an influenza ward in the Netherlands, 1918

February 11, 1920

Oakland, California Municipal Auditorium turned into
temporary influenza hospital, 1918

Office worker wears protective mask, 1918

Australian quarantine camp, 1919
Physic class at the University of Montana being held outside, 1919.
 The open-air was believed to prevent the spread of the disease.

March 3, 1920

Emergency hospital set up in Brookline, Massachusetts to
care for influenza patients, 1918

Street cleaner in New York City, 1918. The NY Dept. of
Health's motto for city workers: "Better ridiculous than dead"

Red Cross Motor Corps transport an influenza victim in St. Louis, Missouri, 1918
December 11, 1918
Boston nurses in protective gear, spring 1919

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