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tv   1918 Flu Pandemic  CSPAN  December 10, 2020 10:57pm-12:41am EST

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altered american life in ways that are familiar to those living through today's coronavirus pandemic. conflicting information left people fearful. college classes were held outside. sporting events were canceled and fines were imposed on american who refused to wear masks. up next on american history tv, a look at how the u.s. dealt with those events a century ago and the lessons we can learned today. held at southern methodist university in dallas. this is one hour 40 minutes. >> since the pandemic has begun. for our purposes, let's say since we shut down in march, the thing that has been driving our analysis is what is the historical precedent. obviously, 1918 is the one that comes to mind and we really have nobody better to tell us about 1918 them my friend christopher mcknight nichols. he's an associate professor of history at the university -- at oregon state, excuse me. he's also director of oregon
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states center for the humanities and the founder of their citizenship and crisis initiative. he also studied at harvard. chris is an expert on the early parts of the 20th century. of course, he's expanding and he and i were chatting about newark he has coming out on ideologies and u.s. foreign policy. that book itself, that term, that title, was a seminal book in the field in 1987. i'm glad that someone has decided to go in and updated shall we say. there's no better person to do it than chris. he will be talking to us about the 1918 pandemic. i would encourage you as you look at your zoom screen, on the bottom you will see a cue and a button. please hit that button and submit your questions. in fact, you can see other
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people's questions as they come in. if you like they're question or if you are going to ask a similar question, just hit the thumbs up button. that will actually be helpful because it moves it up the cute. the more people who like something, the higher it gets in life. just like anything else on the web. i will also remind you that there is no chat function here. we want people to just focus on the q&a. needless to say, but i will say it anyway, please notice one of the great benefits of doing this via web is it is much easier to kick out anyone who is unruly. please keep its civil, people. without further ado, i will ask ryan franklin to turn on christmas camera. there he is. how are you doing, buddy? listen, i just gave you the intro. it looks like it's a sunny day out there. i will turn things over to you and people, again, i encourage you. chris will show us some images and he will walk us through. he will light the questions on
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us. and then he and i will come back to have the discussion once he is done with his presentation. chris, the floor is yours. >> yes, thank you so much. first of all, i just want to say thank you to everyone who is here with us. we had some record turnout for registrations. i hope i can keep you interested. this topic is inherently interesting. you probably don't need too much. special thank you to brian franklin who helped organize this and is behind the scenes running the webinar. and ron spits helped get things set up. and also, maybe most importantly, many thankyous to professor jeffrey angle. he is a fantastic collaborator in colleague and friend. we worked on a project that will be out next year. look for rethinking american grand strategy, for a chapter. today, i'm going to give you a march through of what happened in the pandemic of 1918.
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this is something i started studying years ago while studying world war i and domestic and international politics. frankly, when i taught it to my survey u.s. history students, they were much more interested in world war i. but now, there is no such thing. we are tuned to the historical lessons we can learn from the previous, most significant global pandemic that's comparable to our current one. i will give you a brief compelling talk about that history. and then i will telescope out periodically to make comparisons to 2020 and to think more globally. and then, we will periodically pause to reflect on questions of historical comparison, differences and similarities. recently, i organize a roundtable of some of the top historians on this subject. we don't always agree, but i was surprised by how much consensus there was about the lessons you can learn. i will give you this quick
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brief rundown of exactly what happened in the pandemic of 1918, and then we will telescope in and out. please keep your questions coming. one of the things i think is most important to consider when we go back to that moment, and here is where we need to look at human history. it's the suffering in human cost. i will talk a bit about the numbers, but one of the crucial things to understand at this moment is the story of people like victor won. he was a really fascinating figure. he was a distinguished leader of american medicine in 1918. he was dean of the university of michigan medical school. he becomes the person in charge of the army medical services, the founding editor of the journal of laboratory in clinical medicine. he served as a colonel in the army. he led a division of communicable diseases. need i say, here is a guy who had seen a lot of death. and he gets involved leading that division when the worst
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deadly second wave of the pandemic began in fall 1918. september 23rd, 1918, he traveled to massachusetts as part of a team of army surgeons. he got there and was devastated by what he saw. this was a little bit outside of boston. he could not believe what he was seeing. they are placed on cots until every bed is full, and yet others crowd in. the faces soon where a blue cap and a distressing cough brings a bloodstains. in the morning, the dead bodies are stacked up at the morgue like cardboard. this is the sort of thing that medical doctors were seeing at barracks throughout fall 1918, and because those barracks as part of the war effort were so integrally connected to the facilities nearby, it's but immediately and rapidly got to the civilian population.
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despite what public health officials in army medical officials often said, we need to think about this moment, this moment of 1918 in terms of the human cost and humans involved in the suffering. the numbers are somewhat staggering, frankly. this is one of the things we also need to think about, when we think about the u.s. cases. what happened in 1919 in the pandemic was the u.s. lost roughly 675,000 people on the border of 50 million around the world, although there are some differences in terms of the estimates of those numbers between 20 and 100 million. in the u.s., this 20 to 30% of the population was infected. in fact, the u.s. lost more soldiers to flu and pneumonia and other diseases than in combat in world war i. and all of this in part was
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integrally connected to the war effort. it's the other piece for us to understand. here we are. how did it begin. what happened? it all began in the u.s. context of winter 1918. in march 1918, at camp fun stand, kansas, we begin to see widespread illness of a seemingly new type in american troops must during their. as john berry writes, a soldier recalled that of the 12 men who slept in my squadron, seven were ill at one time. you saw something like 24 of the 36 major army bases in the u.s. philip to capacity in their medical words. that was the spring of 1918 by the influenza virus. there is a couple different origin stories about the influenza virus. i will talk later about the spanish flu, as it is sometimes called, and what that meant.
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but in the u.s. context, but a lot of us, scholars now say was the viral version of what we think of as the pandemic. and a ridge unaided in kansas in february and march 1918. there is an epidemiologist and others who attract the virus to vietnam, china, france. but when we think of it spreading around the world in 1918, that comes out of kansas. you can watch that move. it is something that is in a lot of presidential and political history. you can watch this move through army records, in particular. there is amazing data on who got sick when and why. that's because of army data and u.s. government census data. we don't have good data and information about how the flu spread in 1918. they are just not looking at the right places. we historians know exactly where to look. you can really get fine grain analysis.
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when we talk about the flu of 1918, why it is so comparable, as jeff said earlier, two today, is that it went around the world. a lot of historians a different arguments similar to this. the world is effectively globalized before world war i. and you see that playing out in terms of how the virus spreads. u.s. troops in particular arriving in france are conduits of transmission. they are vectors of disease. you are soldiers first began arriving well before the pandemic in june 1917. but the u.s. doesn't really get its mobilization wrapped up until 1918. that roughly coincides with the spread of the flu. as u.s. troops crisscrossed the nation, they brought the flu with them. you can watch that happen in local newspapers. i will show you. we know exactly when the flu arrives in places like portland, oregon or philadelphia, or dallas.
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they almost always arrived with u.s. soldiers. so a globalized world spread the pandemic in a way that previous ones did not. the transmission of peoples, goods across borders, including for war, and even in neutral countries spread the disease as well. looking around the world in 1918, what happened? it starts in march in kansas. by may, it's in shanghai, china, new zealand, algeria by june. australia issued some pretty strict quarantine policies. but by 1819, australia has it as well. sydney was particularly hard hit. within a year, it is around the world. that's a pretty amazing fact. it used to be very striking, but now as we look at this current moment, it's remarkably similar to think about the disease outbreak in china in
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late 1919 to be a worldwide pandemic declaration from the w.h.o. in march of this year. so the trade war really helps explain the conflict, and explain the ways in which the virus was transmitted globally, as i said. it also helps us to understand a bit more about why the disease was discussed and how it was discussed and recorded, and what some of the major concerns were about talking about the virus or treating it or thinking more fully about the possibilities of an informed public taking public health measures. as the u.s. enters the war in april 1917, or here you can look at french forces near the western front, one thing that should immediately stand out as this is the opposite of social distancing. it's the opposite of the physical distancing that's being impressed upon all of us today as an essential way to stop the virus. the induction camps, the
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trenches on the western front, if you can conjure up those images, they absolutely were prone to spreader and superspreader of ends. one of the things that should also stand out and we think about the comparison back and forth is that between the 1918 epidemic and today, one real significant contrast is that the overwhelming majority of those who died in 1918, 1919, or 1920 of the influenza, something like a half or third were in the 18 to 45 eight bracket, an overwhelming majority. the influence of that era disproportionately hit young and healthy people. we can talk about that. the immune systems over respond, damaging their lungs. they drowned with fluid in their lungs in a really horrific way. that's the kind of thing that dr. vlaun embodied so well. people just dropped at awfully fast, unlike our current
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pandemic, which does not target the most healthy, at least in terms of case fatality rate. i am a historian, not an epidemiologist. and please remember, a lot of this information relies on the great histories of others. i have a page of resources i will share with you at the end, and then we can share it after the top. another thing that's important to think about is the wartime consequences and shaping of the flu responses. and lots of countries, it was patriotism. this may strike you as a contrast today or a continuity. i welcome talking about this in the q&a. we see here these red cross women volunteers and workers making masks and the sun behind him, if i fail, he dies. it's work supporting the war cause, and also the martial language used to defeat the virus. we've heard some of that from president trump with his
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description of the invisible enemy. that's very much the kind of martial language we heard operationalize in 1919. it's the fight against the virus, the turning of it with the nation state concept of the spanish flu, trying to make visible the invisible virus so people would take it more seriously, except collusion policies, practice hand hygiene, even wear masks. there is another more insidious piece to the wartime story. that is that nations like the united kingdom had passed legislation, in this case the defense of the realm act of 1914, that censored the mail, that censored what the press said and distributed on a wide array of topics that might pertain to the war. one of the key elements here was communication about limiting access to anything that might undermine the war effort.
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in the u.s. context, there were the espionage and sedition acts, very famously in 1917 and 1918, as this headline from the u.s. national archives says. i believe it's the new york times. sedition bill has been signed, one of the most drastic measures ever enacted to capture and punish enemy agents. another piece of that was to limit free speech and civil liberties related to talking about anything that might undermine the war effort. why am i mentioning this? it sounds like a social history or political history. it also meant that journalists could not talk about these outbreaks at the masons very much. if you think about 24 of the 36 largest bases having large-scale outbreaks of the virus, it meant the troops were not combat effective, could not move across the country and then across the atlantic, you understand better how this possible communication about the waves of the virus and it's
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infectiousness and its fatalities might undermine the war effort. you saw on this moment the u.s., uk, and other combatant nations, germany, france, censoring the press, limiting information about the outbreaks. and that is a first level takeaway for us to think about. historians are very clear on this. one of the huge problems of 1918 was a lack of rapid, on honest, and continually updated information from nation states, not just the u.s., the uk, but combatant nations as, well austria hungary, germany, etc. if you think about, this consider don't talk. the web is spun for you with invisible threats. that's not just talking about elements of the war effort itself, or, for instance, the draft, another thing many american dissenters related to the war, whether or not the draft was constitutional and had been fully tested in the civil war, air and world war i
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mobilizing millions of people for a war. many folks, including socialist five-time candidate for president eugene debs, spoke out against the draft. he said not everyone should have to serve, that it might not even be constitutional to forced people to serve. he was imprisoned for a speech he gave him, candle. that's another example of the ways the world limited speech about public health issues and dissent during a time of war. another limitation we're thinking about, we've heard this in a lot of countries and in the u.s., our ways of minimizing the virus. this was more true in march and april than it is today, but as the virus spread into the middle of october when that deadly second wave spread, you saw documents like this.
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spanish influenza, the three-day influenza, the flu. a new name for an old disease. there had been an outbreak all the previous pandemic in 1899 and -- 1889 and 1890. here you see these widely disk -- distributed information coming from the u.s. department of health and the general surgeon. -- the surgeon general. you see this well into the fall. that creates a lot of problems in the u.s. because americans don't know which policies to adopt at the local, state and federal level even. they also don't know what information to trust. i will show you some more images from the air about that. another piece of the puzzle is about where it came from. one thing historians have had to talk about lately is should
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we call flus about their nation or city of origin? what does that mean since viruses are global and not limited to nation states? so why was it called the spanish flu? the main reason is the wartime nations were censoring press. what did that mean for other countries? spain was neutral in the war. the king kept the nation out of the war effort, though they had some direct ties to other monarchs. so they kept out of the war effort. in may, 1918, the king and the number of other major figures in the league circles of spain came down with the flu. the spanish press starting treating this with lots of sensational coverage. there are accounts where they say a man walking down the
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street suddenly felt congested, falls down and is dead within a day. that sounds sensational, very similar accounts we have in the u.s. of incredibly strong people, men, all american football players, one of the strongest lumberjacks in the pacific northwest, they would also sometimes just fall down dead. so the pratte -- spanish press covering this when it came out, you saw first the british press cover this and they used terms like the hygiene and environment in spain were giving rise to this flu. or that the spanish were not able to deal with it because of their society. these kind of subtle and heavily racialized terms. you can google this yourself to see some of the british press about this. it was then widely more adopted
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in the angle american press. you wind up seeing the u.s. and british spending a lot more time calling it the spanish flu. and before long, throughout the summer of 1918 and into the fall, it has become the spanish flu. of course, by the fall of 1918, public health officials in the u.s. and the uk, much less around the world, understood that the origins of the world -- the flu were not in spain. however, the term had caught on. this weaponized, racialized, nationalist version of the flu caught on. another thing that is worth noting is that the spanish called it the french blue because they blamed french workers coming for the war effort for that. the germans called it the russian pest. russians ultimately called it by several other names including chinese flu. so you see in this moment something we've seen in the past. this kind of urged to weaponize and nationalize a flu or virus, perhaps to diminish it or perhaps to better
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operationalize a way forward to fight back against the virus. as i was thinking about this moment, as we are thinking through the conflict, you also find that on the front, a number of places and number of french posts do have significant flu outbreaks. they happen during the spring and into the summer of 1918. but the notice is, for instance, in the british navy, some 10,000 sailors come down with the flu, but only for five die. there are a few posts of the french where everyone is sick and very few die. then all of a sudden in the late summer, something seems to change. there's changes in the reporting and the intelligence we get from british in u.s. sources that we can look back on. it changes most importantly in the balance of the virus.
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in summer 1918, in places that were not to the u.s. and british per having good medical care, you found widespread disease. it was knocking out more people not just of combat effectiveness, but also from life itself. either they recovered and could not breathe well enough or that they had such lung damage that they could not live very well, or they were actually fatalities to the disease. here's an example of influenza patients in switzerland. so what you see in this moment, what is really interesting to look back on, is that british and american intelligence officers are reporting back in documents that are marked secret and confidential saying things like, the disease that is now epidemic throughout switzerland is wet is commonly known as black plague or influenza, although it is designated as spanish sickness or grippe. we must deal with this. now the affliction has
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resurfaced in significant form. when they are worried about is the combat effectiveness of u.s. and british troops. but of course, as any of you who know about this history, the wartime imperative is -- imperatives triumphed over that. as troops bring back from france the virulent form to east port cities like philadelphia, new york and boston, you see americans taking advice from the surgeon general and public health officials despite warnings. they are going ahead with major events. they are going ahead with business as usual. september 28th, 1918 is this famous moment. it was the largest parade to date in philadelphia history. this was a moment to sell liberty loan bonds to support the war. this was an era when the u.s.
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attempted to finance its conflicts up -- on the backs of its citizens through things like bonds. we no longer do that, but that's an interesting topic to think about as well. here's the image of an aircraft hall traveling down the parade route philly. of course, what you all may know about what comes next is how horrific that superspreader event was. doctors urged the public health officials and the mayor to cancel the parade. they were really fearful that hundreds of thousands of people jammed onto the route would be a problem. and of course, it was a huge one. two days after the parade, the head of public health said something as follows. i will paraphrase. now present in the civilian population is some type of flu. but let us not be, quote, panic stricken over exaggerate reports. on the other hand, you look at details like this. the philadelphia evening
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bulletin later reported that in some families, there are none left to take care of burying their dead, and others are unable to bury them or cannot find undertakers. husband and in fifth dead in a few hours. that's really horrific. after the parade, it got much worse. the hospitals quickly philip. they build supplemental hospitals which also philip. at some point, you are getting 700 plus people dying in one day at its worst. priests who drove horse drawn carriages and carts to pick up the bodies could not keep up. that is how bad it got. when you think about what historians have been hollering about since march, and public health officials have as well, and there's a great report on the cdc website about the history of the pandemic. this is what we worry about when we think about football games, parades and large-scale activities. we worry a lot about this kind of moment. philadelphia could not keep up. in modern parlance, the curve
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cannot be flattened. this city was utterly devastated because of that. the across the country, public health officials continued along those lines. that is one thing that we learned. here's more from philly. the surgeon general said there is no cause for alarm. a precautions are observed. the president of the west philadelphia medical association began in anti-scare campaign, saying the public should be educated to the fact that the disease is not as deadly as advertised. then there's the image of the young girl with -- who is mortally ill sister in that case. the editors of the philly enquirer wrote that strict closure orders went too far. this is reminiscent of our current moment. shutting down schools, etc. here you see the anti-spinning
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campaign among others. there you see in the lower part later in the pandemic, someone being brought into the hospital by police. you see a lot of conflicting information and you saw people worried about very similar things to today. the question of whether or not the measures to stop the virus were worse than the virus itself. in the city of philadelphia, they were seemingly proving that the virus was pretty terrible. even within the city, you see this kind of information. i am often asked what about the economy? here's a great example. again, october, 1918, the height of the deadliest second wave of the pandemic. several hundred thousand die in just six weeks. it is as bad as it gets. here's the wall street journal. in some parts of the country, the pandemic has caused a decrease in production of approximately 50%. and almost everywhere, this is
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occurred. merchants have met across the country, impairment of efficiency has the noticeable. never in this country has there been so complete domination by an epidemic as has been the case with this one. why do i pull this out? well, at this point most cities have closure orders throughout the u.s., but not all. essential activity was still war work. so war industrial plants were open making munitions and rifles and tanks and all sorts of things. in those industries, you saw reports of 40, 50 and even 60% of folks not showing up to work. they were not all sick, but they were taking and making a risky calculation in that moment about whether or not it was worth it to go in to work in those essential industries. you can imagine how other jobs that were less essential, and people who were fearful, those other industries were having significant problems as well. one of the lessons historians
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take from this moment, and you can see this in many other countries, it's that there is no such thing as business as usual in a pandemic. almost regardless of what public health measures are undertaken, whether voluntary or mandatory, people make choices about their lives. make choices about their loved ones who might be more prone about getting sick. people who are fearful. of course, some people obviously need to work, and that's why the pandemic in this moment felt disproportionately on people of lower social economic status. very often people of color and indigenous communities. we will talk about that as well. these are the sorts of folks that you saw showing up. here's the st. louis we red cross motor corps. ambulance teams are drilling to get ready for their work. another piece of the puzzle in 1918 and 1919 was that most male doctors, or at least many
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of them, had been drafted or joined the war effort. there were lots of nurses as well overseas. so there was a nursing shortage and a doctor and medical staff shortage that was part of that moment. there were lots of calls for needing more nurses and more medical care in that era. another thing to think about, as you see so many images of the red cross and civil society organizations, and voluntary organizations, although the red cross emerges as a public private hybrid. american expectations of public health were very different in this era. americans, and citizens around the world, did not cling to the government to provide for all of their medical care. they often felt back on community resources, church groups and other organizations. national, state and local ones like the red cross to help out in times like this. the challenge in cities like philadelphia and elsewhere, those groups were overwhelmed. many of these groups -- if you look here, you can just surmise that these are probably women 18 to 45, which is the
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demographic most likely to be hit hardest by this virus. so you had lots of medical professionals volunteers and nurses getting sick in 1918 and 1919. that further exacerbated and amplifying the problems that were already there. and social historians have beautifully and sadly documented that this led to a kind of loneliness, alienation, and fear by lots of other people. as the pandemic goes on and late fall into winter in the beginning of 1919, there's lots of relatively healthy people, no longer being very willing to help their older relatives or neighbors, because they'd seen how many young healthy people had been stricken down and killed very fast. and so there was less volunteering, and one story that comes out from this history of john berry and nancy bristo, for instance, is a pretty common one across the u.s. from the midwest, southwest, east coast, west coast of people being so fearful and so challenged by this moment that they say
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things like, here is an account from north carolina. we were almost a free to breathe. we were afraid even to go out. the fear was so great people were actually afraid to leave their homes, afraid to talk to one another. another example comes from washington, d.c.. if i kept people apart who had no schooling, no church, no nothing. it destroyed all family and community. the terrifying aspect was when each day dawned, you didn't know whether you would be there when the sun set that day. and internal reports from lots of organizations really amplified this. you see this in john berries writing in particular. the american red cross concluded that fear and panic of the influenza, akin to terror of the middle ages regarding the black played, had been prevalent in virtually every community in the u.s.. that's another interesting element of this. thinking globally and human, one of the things people are seeing in other countries is
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this fear of the virus has manifested itself and social relations around the world. and it's a kind of unique thing that we rarely see in history or world history. everyone around the world would be experiencing something, pretty much in realtime. that is something we have not paused to reflect on very much. there may be longer consequences to it. let's talk about non pharmaceutical interventions. that's a term foreclosure policies and social distancing, and all that sort of stuff. the philadelphia enquirer right after that great parade, which was a superspreader event, virtually nothing there. a few days later, two weeks later, you see scientific nursing halting the epidemic, deaths now decreasing, cases average only 1000 a day, and enormous number. what's happened? you've probably seen and
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thought about this. in cities like philadelphia, where you had that parade, the first case arrives 11 days before the parade. these sailors were coming into the port of philadelphia and then you see the superspreader of event. it tracks pretty neatly into late september, how horrific the case is. other cities did better, st. louis. their chief medical officer was a son of a civil war surgeon and obsessed with infectious diseases. he had been following closely what was going on on the east coast, empowered by the mayor, and he puts on significant closure policies rapidly. and the proactive rapid closure process that happens in st. louis and their long duration helps to explain the difference in the two curves. here is another way of looking at it. you can look at how september 28th, right when the parade
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happens, and there is an enormous uptick that comes after that. st. louis, which was handling it well, has a much more prolonged duration, but it is so much lower and widely considered a success. but one of the things to think about is how this will operate for us all in the fall, when there is likely to be a second wave, just around the corner, or perhaps even in the winter or spring. there are usually three waves to the influenza pandemic, and we are looking at going into a second wave now, you might argue, assuming we never ended the first, in the u.s. that is. what happened in other cities, what can we learn from them, what the insights are, in st. louis, denver, pittsburgh, similar phenomenon. in new york, with another series of big events, not as big as philadelphia, but it's a comparable moment.
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what happened in denver is something to talk about in a moment, but another piece of the puzzle is what happened in pittsburgh with its big peak. one element to that, which i think is useful for us to think about and take away, is that they closed in a layered strategy. there was a very powerful catholic lobby in the city, and they wanted to keep the parochial schools open longer, keep public schools closed, but not parochial schools. and there were more exemptions for activities, outdoors, sometimes indoors. public health scholars say this is partly why you saw the first peak and then a second peak here in october into early november. it was a layered strategy of closing that was not a good one. if you are going to close, close completely and keep it on. and if you are going to open, you open in a layered fashion,
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a fazed strategy. these are pretty clear lessons. i have the citation of the great journal of the american medical academy piece on. this you can see lots of comparative cities. let's talk about denver. what happened in denver? this is where we are seeing a lot of the u.s. today, as of august 2020. there was a premature reopening, a percent of lobby groups in the city of denver. we now call them the amusements lobby, billiard halls, theaters, to some extent restaurants. they've really pushed hard to reopen, as they saw some disease going down, as demonstrated in their hospitalizations and what doctors were reporting. so they start to reopen, because they thought they could. as they reopen in the end of october into november, what you find is they haven't really done enough to get rid of it. they are not really fully
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following data and disease with this logic of hoping to get businesses back up and running. that's what we have seen in a lot of the u.s., and frankly in other parts of the world. november 11th, armistice day, lots of people went out to the streets, whether or not they were allowed in most cities in the u.s.. when the war ended, and they partied and had fun and met with other people in places where they were wearing masks, they would take them off. and lots of cities, especially places like denver, you see a second peak. so this is part and parcel of the lesson that historians and scholars take from this moment. they don't prematurely reopen. you will never know for sure, but this data suggests that you need to get to lower numbers. as you've all probably been following, there recommended thresholds for reopening, and
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clearly cities like denver in 1918 did not follow them. in part because they didn't know them, but in part because they were led by folks who have to get back to business as usual. it did not work out, despite wishful thinking. another thing to think about, really beautifully, graphically arrayed, is to think about what happened over these different periods, ten-week period as they adopt strategies, eventually, later in the first set, for the first ten weeks from september 8th to november 23rd, as cities adopted strategies of closure policies, or so-called non pharmaceutical interventions, closing schools, closing businesses, limiting numbers of people on public transit, practicing hand hygiene, using so-called ventilation tactics on windows, creating more air flow, cleaning spaces, and then eventually later on into the fall, that's when you begin to see more of the mask mandates fall into winter. what you see here is cities that had peaks, for instance,
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or that are particularly hard hit, like philadelphia, pittsburgh, as i have been commenting. but you won't see here is dallas. i will tell you a bit about that shortly. you won't see too many other places. let me leap into that story for you. here on the left to see the spraying machine used to disinfect the nasal passages of soldiers on fields. this was used across the u.s.. there is a picture of it happening right there, courtesy of the dallas morning news. these are some of the bits of information that were suggested by the surgeon general to be presented on the front page of the dallas morning news in october, 1918. we know for sure what happened in dallas and texas, roughly september 24th, as the national press was covering escalating influenza, on the east coast, dallas has made health official, a guy by the name of karen's,
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warned his community to expect it was coming, he was not wrong. closer to home, thousands of cases were reported at camp logan, near houston, san antonio, very slow to react. and an attempt to contain these epidemics, the troops medical officials try to quarantine camps. another thing we saw on this air it was the quarantine camps didn't work very well. the troops very regularly left or perhaps got unlucky in terms of who they encountered, and that then led into civilian populations. if you think about sports today, for instance, the bubbles were an absolute quarantine. anything short of, that even a 99% quarantine, doesn't seem to work. that's what happens in the fall of 1918. the case in dallas was that by
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september 27th, three days later, there were 15 cases and dallas, five which in dallas emergency hospital. as you go on, by october 3rd, dallas had 119 cases, including some young folks like a 15 year old. he died at st. paul's hospital. you had hospitals beginning to isolate cases, physicians adopting these strategies from the east coast, things like ventilation, air, trying to keep people apart. they worked pretty rapidly to call special meetings, to close schools. by the middle of october, public health officials in dallas like and lots of other places were divided on how rapidly to close things down. as cases mounted in dallas schools and hospitals in social settings, that's when they start back. we can talk more about it, but the point is that actually historians to study this closely, in the case of texas
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and dallas, suggests that in fact, despite variations and figures, it's hard to know what the cases were. this is because the flu was not a reportable disease in this moment. some people would go to the hospital and die of something called a heavy cold, or it would be reported as the grip and not influenza. however you slice them, it is clear that dallas fared better than most american cities, in part because of the early period. september 24th is when they start talking about this. the parade in philadelphia is september 20th. dallas officials were on the scene thinking about this more rapidly than others in other cities. the epidemic death rates in dallas where somewhere in the range of 250 to 511 per hundred thousand. that's likely closer to the low number. better than new orleans, better than birmingham, better than most midwestern communities
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even like st. louis, that didn't do very well. some people asked, well, who got the flu? babe ruth got the flu, among others. the world series ends a bit early in fall 1918, because of the flu. the red sox win. and there is a curse after that, as you may have heard of. he called, it came back from it very rapidly. franklin delano roosevelt got the flu on a ship in september. again, at the time, these were two very healthy individuals not prone to get this. press suggests that it's not that much. in 1919, woodrow wilson got. if there is an argument that part of the problems with his peacemaking in paris to and world war i were related to having gotten the flu. people think he had a minor stroke. there is a hypothesis that woodrow wilson's minor stroke, if it was, that was directly related to the flu, which as we know now, from the
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cardiovascular problems of viruses linked to the coronavirus, can lead to strokes, blood clots, other things like that. sports, let me get to that. here is a university of oregon football star. so many troops, so many football stars of that era had been drafted and went off to fight in the war. that was a big piece of that moment. there is no professional football at that time. college football was the main thing. the baseball season concluded and lots of people wanted to see football. unlike now, they couldn't go. no routers to see the game. there were a fair number of colleges that did play, georgia tech famously played quite a few home games. games were canceled in cities that had big outbreaks like philadelphia and boston. so you saw lots of teams that did not have full records. many conference is also canceled. but they did in fact play, often without fans, although in some cases they played with fans wearing masks. that is an interesting
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dimension to that. the stanley, cup for instance, is another example. until i did my research, i didn't know. the stanley cup ended in a draw, and that's because most of the canadians who are in the midst of it, a number of games, and they were too sick to play. so officially on the stanley cup, montreal canadians, syria's not completed. that's because of the flu. that's one of the things we worry about when we think about major league soccer or major league baseball or football. what will happen if a number of players get the virus? can they continue? baseball famously played some games in masks. spring training january, 1919. i'm a big baseball fan as you can see behind me. don martian at a perfect game. in fact, baseball players played in masks. there was one totally masked game in california. although by the time the season started officially, they were
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not playing in masks. i will give you a couple of more images and global takeaways as we get to the q and a. as we think about some of the other comparisons to our current moment, blue causes and cures. we saw this, how to make your own masks. again, it's very similar to our current moment and ways with which we've tried to personalize and individualized how this is done. how the press talks about what we can do to take agency in a moment of uncertainty. here's another example of the sort of ways in which things work then. large scale facilities are full of people who are sick. in new york, they built -- they rented out the jab at center as a medical facility, however it was not rented out. a woman on the porch is at walter reed medical center in
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d.c. spanish influenza has danger the prosecution of the war in europe. don't spit, don't spread it. that sort of thing. that kind of injunction against that. tense and patients in emergency hospitals were taken outside. some of that was because of overflow, but also because it was thought of as an effective strategy. if you think about how we are encouraged today to go outdoors, socially distance, that's a piece of this puzzle that is going outdoors. there you see masked medical officials and people staying outside. here you see another set of ways to grapple with it. on the lower right you see world war i era tenement. one thing that happened in a lot of cities across the u.s., seattle for example, when schools were closed, teachers were sent out to teach home
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economics. teaching ventilation strategies and hygiene. they knew the disease could be spread on door handles and services. they wanted those people to clear those surfaces out and not have high tech services and open windows and ventilates basis to try to get less high dosage in the way that we would think about it. a viral load operating in small spaces. there were staffing crises. this was a big problem for world war i. here you see epidemic, spanish influenza hampering operations of the depot. we groups of people to talk about what is going on. you saw similar phenomena relating to the government and the role of the flu. you saw these sorts of training. the police and the military
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providing the optics of mask-wearing and a kind of patriotic push forward. you also saw this another walks of life. civil servants and workers. you also saw something similar to what we've seen today. mask mandates and other kinds of mandates. on the left, you see a conductor telling someone who is not bring a mask that they cannot write on public transit. that's a piece of the story from that era that very much resonates with us today. lots of what happened that is comparable happen on the west coast. it's very well documented. san francisco in particular is a great course study. the courts are being held outside. we think about social distancing impossible stride when we see this, but they thought they were outside and they did not know about bio transmission the way we do today. so there were open court cases, open barbershops. here's a picture of that. they have masks. there is masks inside for
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barbershops in cincinnati as you get farther into the fall. people don't want to be outside in the cold. that is part of why we worry so much about where a deadly second wave will look like we. that was something they were pursuing in 1918. classes were being held outside as well. classes were held outside in 1919. that's a physics class being held in either football stadium or outdoor sports wreck facility. i cannot imagine that we professors would want to do outdoor classes, but anything is possible to minimize spread. that's the sort of thing you saw in trying to back some sort of normalcy in 1818 and 1819. here you see troops on a ship watching a staged boxing match. they are also all in masks. so again, this was a very important moment. there was a lot of buy in from the armed forces and other agents of the government. there of course was a lot of that information. i would love to talk more about this, when i'm trying to give
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you a quick walk through all of this. one of my favorites is this one. the flute travels through the mouthpiece of the telephone so quit talking so much. relating to that. with constant and continuous smoking should stalled the flu. this gets to a more serious point. the surgeon general argue there is no cars from -- alarm if precautions are observed. we find in the ridings of americans but, they do not know which advice to heed. you see that you should not talk on the phone. you see that you should smoke constantly. you see the surgeon general coming to follow precautions. which one is it? you see this vaporous on the left? is it all of the above? proactive policies obviously with the keys to thinking about that moment. that is why historians say it is so similar to today. non pharmaceutical interventions, closing schools, churches, theaters. health commissioners getting
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out in front of this and making sure communities practice social distancing. those sorts of operations. and trying to honestly and rapidly communicate with the risks were. that came a lot too late for a lot of the u.s., but it's sort of never too late is one lesson of the 1918 and 1919 flu. here's what was going on in oregon. here's a terrible example. you can watch the first soldiers from seattle bring the disease down to oregon through the camps. on the coast, 120 cases at fort stevens. it got two other coastal towns. one in one town, the one undertaker got sick and was unable to take care of the bodies. as bodies mounted up, it seemed to hit children disproportionately hard in the city. the city cried out that they were unable to find and build enough child sized coffins. so when historians and public
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health officials look at this moment, when you look at medical facilities overwhelmed and people in distress, this is what we think of. civilians coming to dread the disease in numbers that meant it was impossible to carry on. here is another example. in buildings, montana, the order of one third to one half of the county came down with the flu in one county alone. how do you carry on? that is what we see in account after account. one of my favorite things they said in that moment was it is easier to prevent the nuclear. so if you follow the non pharmaceutical interventions, if you have closure policies, if you are distanced and do hand hygiene, you can prevent it. it's so much harder to cure once it is in the community. a little bit more on faced reopenings. as they reopen and lifting closure orders, the embargoes come off and lots of cities were eager to do this. this is how we contract the data relating to that phased
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reopening. we follow data and disease and not our desire to go out to restaurants and bars. places that did slower and more faced reopenings after a longer closure, that allowed them to exist in that way for longer. cities like philadelphia come out okay in 1919 after suffering through some terrible stuff and finally closing fully. here's some more examples of the flu and the phased reopenings. gradual reopenings in chicago, for instance, including sports. here are some other examples. no reason to believe it originated in spain. i want to pick that out because sometimes people think it's true, that it is coming from the primary sources of that era, from the u.s. surgeon general himself. i will conclude with some takeaway remarks. you are probably all thinking about as jeff angled noted, november is coming fast. what happens if you have an election in a pandemic? is that even possible? it sure is and we've done it
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before. there were in fact midterm elections in 1918. woodrow wilson never once -- once mentioned the pandemic. no public addresses or speeches about the pandemic at all. he made the war the key to his democratic party hopes. this prosecution of the war and bringing it almost a conclusion at that point. it wound up being a lost referendum. republicans get a bunch of seats. there's a very low turnout. as i say, reports depicted polling places around the nation as quietest within memory. some places did not open up at all. most did. a very low turnout relatively. the election did not map on as neatly onto partisan perspectives on the virus as we see today. what you see on the left is the saloon versus the church. the ways in which both parties
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were arguing which areas should get close to first or reopen first. saloon's -- salutes and gambling houses versus churches. we have to remember this is an era of rising temperance. prohibition is about to come out of this. it mapped onto politics in different regions, but not the actions to the virus itself. one thing that is interesting to note is that warren carding ran on an america first platform coming out of the pandemic and world war i. pushing a kind of restrictions to immigration and return to normalcy and return to society as we know it. as we take a step back, we also saw pushback, protests and reemergence in that era.
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you may have heard about the anti mask league. it was an organized lead in san francisco in early 1919 that pushed back against mask requirements that we're mandatory. but the anti mask league is the only real large organized one in the u.s.. we see 4500 listed here. you see the mayor of san francisco say we are not taking off mask
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work finds. in some places there were fines of significant jail time, several weeks, significant dollar amounts. there were several accounts of masks lacquer's being held on charges of disturbing the peace because they refused to wear masks. there was at least one shooting when -- there were several times that weapons were discharged in attempted apprehensions of people who would not wear masks and insistent on writing public transit or going into businesses or get courts. the mask slack or language is something worth noting because it's the same as the context of draft slack or's. those who did not do their wartime duty or go into the draft join the military were thought of as slackers. the press took that same language and many americans talked about it in terms of masks slacking.
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that it was your duty to keep your communities safe, not just yourself. this was similarly seen in lots of great cartoons of the era. trying to normalize that behavior. there is a great one. i want to come back to this if you want. mom, even the horses are wearing them as they walk with their masks. this is from fort wayne, indiana. they are trying to teach people and regular rise and normalize even kissing through masks and other behaviors through masks. or trying to teach your father or grandparents is another similar thing we see a lot in the cartoons of this era. you've all probably -- you are all probably fairly familiar with this, a phenomenon of people who won't take precautions. the mask is just one example of this. again, very similar in the 1818 -- 1819 moment. we another element if you think about going through the christmas season and holiday season, december 1918, you see shoppers out wearing masks. this is from indiana once
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again. but you also see is these germs, these microbes. i thought this holiday shopping would be our chance to get them, but those infernal masks spoil it all. here you see germ theory, you see masked concepts but, ivan marshall language to some extent being manifested in this moment.
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