By Gabrielle MacKay
In the midst of this extremely strange moment in American history, we the people have adopted a very distinct phrase into our vocabulary that was up until fairly recently foreign to our day to day existence: “social distancing.” But despite what one may think, it’s actually not as modern as most may believe. Social distancing is a tried successful practice that has been implemented on an equally large spectrum in an age with far less technology to assist.
Many different medical professionals and scientists have agreed that the most comparable model to the current COVID-19 pandemic is the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19, a far more deadly outbreak that should serve as a valuable warning to us all. In the end, Spanish Flu went on to exterminate an estimated 50 million people globally, with 675,000 of those being Americans. Such high mortality rates come despite the fact that many countries, including the US, outlawed large public gatherings, canceled school, and required masks and other protective gear in certain situations.
“Although a vaccine is on the way, none of us are invincible...”
Social distancing, although successful in most cases, is most effective if there is a collective effort amongst the entirety of the population. The reason why so many had to perish despite social distancing measures in 1918 was because there was no unanimous effort to obey state and federal government policies. The cities that took the earliest measures were able to minimize transmission rates of the disease anywhere from thirty to fifty percent. The aforementioned cities also had lower peak mortality and lower total mortality.
Although the current pandemic is far less deadly, we are also in a far better situation than those of the early 20th century. Although a vaccine is on the way, none of us are invincible. Yet still we’ve all been guilty of thinking that we’re not going to become just a statistic on the news. For the sake of those around you and those who do not have the same strength to fight, please stay home as much as possible and do your part to fight the current pandemic.