Letter: Let’s not repeat history | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: Let’s not repeat history

“Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” — Winston Churchill, 1948.

I respect the opinions of people who want to lift the public health restrictions. They are causing great hardship to businesses and individuals. But the alternative would most likely be even worse.

Consider what took place in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu crisis. The virus was already becoming a pandemic, but only 647 people had become infected in the city by Sept. 28, 1918, so city officials decided not to cancel their big war bond parade. Within a week, 45,000 people were infected. Within six months, 16,000 people were dead. In St. Louis, which canceled their parade, the death rate was only one-eighth that of Philadelphia.

A study published last month by the Social Science Research Network determined that cities that imposed aggressive public health restrictions during the Spanish flu pandemic actually performed better economically after the crisis than those that did not. Fewer workers had died, and the local population more quickly resumed normal economic behavior.

“It casts doubt on the idea there is a trade-off between addressing the impact of the virus, on the one hand, and economic activity, on the other hand, because the pandemic itself is so destructive for the economy,” according to co-author Emil Verner of MIT.

Let’s not repeat the history of Philadelphia in 1918.


Andy Wiener
Certified emergency medical responder

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