Makeshift Hospital, Arkansas, November 7, 1918. National Archives and Records Administration

By the beginning of November, the epidemic had ebbed and life resumed, albeit deeply impacted by an epidemic of global proportions. The overextension of hospitals and lack of beds led to the use of gymnasiums as spaces for beds. The closing of public spaces prevented the disease from spreading further, with approximately 675,000 people dying from Influenza in the United States alone (more than half of the current population of Central New York today). The pandemic was largely forgotten in public memory due to the sheer trauma of loss, but the impact on our own understanding of effective disease control and hygiene standards changed forever.

What similarities do you see between the experiences of the individuals in the past?

What lessons do you think we have learned?

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2 thoughts on “Makeshift Hospital, Arkansas, November 7, 1918. National Archives and Records Administration

  1. 1.) What similarities do you see between the experiences of the individuals in the past?

    Similarities range from how scientists and health officials identified the spread of the disease and calling it a “crowd disease” and closed major gathering areas and opportunities such as theaters, churches, and schools just as we have today. The best way to slow the spread was and is social distancing, covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, not sharing cups and utensils, keeping clean by washing our hands regularly. One of the bigger connections that I’ve noticed by monitoring the news is that the virus does not care who you are. Celebrities, athletes, and even Chris Cuomo (CNN reporter/journalist & NYS Governor’s little brother) have tested positive for COVID-19 just as Willard Case contracted the Spanish Influenza and ultimately passed away from it even with his efforts to isolate himself. Following regulations set forth by public health departments and government are important to preserve lives and our community.

    2.) What lessons do you think we have learned?

    Taking action sooner– at least in NYS, we have are at a 100% nonessential workforce at home mandate. Isolation and quarantining is the only way to stop the spread. Massive closures of recreating, arts & culture, shopping and more have shut down and/or modified to follow social distancing mandates. Luckily our officials have been quicker to action in regards to shutting things down rather than being overly skeptical like Thomas C. Sawyer who didn’t put in protective measures until after 9 cases had been identified. Granted there are still many people out there who are skeptical and not practicing social distancing. But because of our communities and country taking action and advanced medicine, Dr. Fauci is predicting a 100,000-200,000 death count versus the Spanish Influenza’s 675,000. Any death is awful, but the only way to keep those numbers down is to work together. Just because our neighboring counties have it, doesn’t mean that it wont come here– it has come here.

  2. ” 1918, The closing of public spaces prevented the disease from spreading further”….Now add in 2020, social distancing, scientific medical advancements, improved personal hygiene, technology,
    effective disinfective products, food shopping advancements ( take out, delivery, order on your phone, etc.) freezers, refrigerators, and the list goes on… We will overcome this pandemic.
    Your actions have consequences regardless of age. Follow the science and health rules of the country and State of New York. Taking care of YOU will take care of OTHERS. The sun rises after darkness. Wellness to all.

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