CR #4–1918 Flu and COVID 19

This week our class learned a little bit about the flu pandemic of 1918, better known as the Spanish Flu. We then drew comparisons from that flu and COVID-19. Recalling what I had learned in previous years about the Spanish Flu, I remembered stories of rapid deaths. In one case a group of women played cards the night before, by morning three has died. Other cases had people collapsing in the streets, succumbing to the flu hours later. It is implied these were perfectly healthy people. Truly, these are terrifying stories.

These memories flooded back when the China Virus began in Wuhan, China. It started at the height of mass protests. The Chinese doctor who exposed the flu had been silenced and then died of the flu that the CCP was insisting did not exist. Slowly, stories and videos were shared across the internet. I watched multiple videos of people seizing and falling to the ground. Men in white biohazard suits came running to their aide. There were videos of bodies on the streets, stepped over by more men and women in white biohazard suits.

They wore the suits while they walked the streets, and even through buildings, with mist spewing contraptions on their back. I can only assume it was some sort of disinfectant. Trucks with massive tanks fixed to them drove down streets in unison spewing white mist. There were videos of infected civilians being barricaded with steel bar in their home. Some had their doors welded shut. Most prominent were the yellow body bag videos. Multiple body bags of people dying too fast for the system to keep up with. This was even more terrifying than the 1918 flu.

All of that seems forgotten a year later. Perhaps because here in America we saw none of that. We were told hospitals were like war zones, overcrowded and overburdened. We were warned the system could collapse. The media showed people waiting in line to get into the hospital (spaced 6 ft apart) wrapping around city blocks. Only for people with phones to stream from the same location an hour later to an empty street. Tik-Tok videos emerged of those over worked nurses and doctors with choreographed dances to music. Not a few, but many, very many. It went viral like the “Tide Pod Challenge.” Everyone was doing it, it seemed. Perhaps it was their method of blowing off steam after dealing with case after case of COVID patients. If that’s the case, then it was highly inappropriate.

My mother and sister are both nurses. They did not make a video. My mother works in a retirement home, and my sister works at a hospital. Even on a “slow” day, they said it would be difficult to find the time to choregraph and produce many of the videos they saw. They both worked closely with COVID patients. They both have had patients that lost their lives to COVID. They also had patients die from other causes and then be listed as COVID deaths. Today, claims such as this are dismissed as a conspiracy or political in nature. My mother is vocal about her experiences, but my sister feels pressure to ‘toe the line’ for fear she may be reprimanded or lose her job. I have no reason to believe they would fabricate such stories. They both lean left so they would be little to gain politically.

Then there is the topic of politics. The Wuhan Flu was politically charged from day one. President Trump ordered travel from China to be restricted. His opponents on the left immediately denounced him as a racist, xenophobic, bigoted, etc. Political opponents even took to the streets of Chinatown to tell the public to not worry about the fear mongering Donald Trump and spend the day in the crowded streets. I find in ironic that they were calling Trump a racist, but immediately went to Chinatown to protest his travel ban as through that might be the likely place people from China would travel to. There were many virtue signaling campaigns initiated. One that comes to mind is Italy’s “Hug a Chinese” campaign, where a person was to find a Chinese person and take a selfie of them hugging them. Asinine.

Businesses were forced to shut down, some permanently as a result. Only mega chains such as Walmart and McDonalds were allowed to stay open for a short period. Only “essential” employees and businesses were allowed to work and operate. People had no choice, and many lost their jobs. The largest transfer of wealth, from middle class to upper class, in our history happened during this period as a result. Holidays, birthday parties, and nearly all types of social gatherings were ordered forbidden. Public shaming or verbal attacks of those who did not comply would become a regular occurrence. When an official who imposed these mandates upon their constituents was caught disobeying said mandates, they would give an excuse or empty apology and continue on.

Not all is negative or in question. As a nation we learned what works and what will not work the next time a pandemic breaks out. We learned that when we, as a nation, are faced with a pandemic, we can react quickly and efficiently. Massive medical tents for COVID patient overflow went up at our hospital here in Ashland. Portable buildings were erected in Hayward for their patient overflow. Mandates were put in place, plexiglass barriers were erected everywhere, stickers were placed on floors of shops and stores do direct foot traffic, people were washing or sanitizing their hands often, and many other “new normals” were put in place. The efficacy of all or some of these measures has yet to be determined. It’s difficult to measure this period because I think to be accurate, we need to have a couple years post COVID to really be able to evaluate how the pandemic was handled.

From what I learned about the 1918 pandemic and having had lived through this pandemic, (I suppose I should knock on wood since it’s not over yet) I don’t see this one to be equal. We have a much larger population and more efficient means of spreading the infection. I see many similarities and I think many of the measures that were put forth during COVID are a result of what we learned from the 1918 flu. Global pandemics are going to occur in the future, there is no way to prevent them and we can only prepare so much. They best way to prepare is to have a well-prepared plan and be as ready as possible to respond quickly and efficiently when pandemics happen.

In 100 years, people will look back at this point in time and point out every flaw they can identify. Will todays historians documenting this event be honest and tell the story as unbiased as possible? Future historians may find it difficult to wade through propaganda and political rhetoric. People today are even unaware of the how events unfolded thanks to slanted media view and pressure to conform. There is even a new spin that the origin of the China Virus was not from China at all. There is also an effort condemn those referring to the COVID-19 outbreak as the “China Virus” or “Wuhan Flu,” as xenophobic. We live in crazy times and often it seems the lunatics are running the asylum. I also wonder how many generations have said that.