Lessons From the 1918 Flu Pandemic
Social distancing works
Comparisons are being made between the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the 1918 flu, which killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide, including 675,000 Americans. Modern society could not be more different today, but any time there’s an outbreak with no vaccine, the interventions are similar.
National Geographic reports how aggressive social distancing efforts — banning social gatherings and closing businesses — tamped down cases in U.S. cities during the 1918 pandemic. “St. Louis, San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Kansas City responded fastest and most effectively: Interventions there were credited with cutting transmission rates by 30–50%,” according to National Geographic. However, lifting these measures too early were deadly in some cases. St. Louis, for example, had such a low death rate that the city relaxed restrictions, only to experience a surge of new cases.
Here’s the complete story:
How some cities 'flattened the curve' during the 1918 flu pandemic
Philadelphia detected its first case of a deadly, fast-spreading strain of influenza on September 17, 1918. The next…
A paper published this week by economists at the Federal Reserve and MIT analyzed the 1918 flu pandemic and reported that while the pandemic reduced manufacturing output by 18%, cities that intervened earlier and more aggressively to pandemics “do not perform worse and, if anything, grow faster after the pandemic is over.” Read the paper here:
Pandemics Depress the Economy, Public Health Interventions Do Not: Evidence from the 1918 Flu
45 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2020 Last revised: 27 Mar 2020 Date Written: March 26, 2020 What are the economic consequences…
And here’s an interview with Skip Desjardin, author of September 1918: War, Plague, and the World Series.