Pandemic Lessons from the Spanish Flu

We’ve been here before. Well, not you and I. 

But, barely more than a century ago there were makeshift hospitals being set up. 

There were mask mandates. There were social distancing measures. There were quarantines. 

I know. We’re so sick of hearing about this stuff now, roughly 6 months into this battle of pandemic proportions, that just the thought of those words makes us shudder! 

But, I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying, “there’s nothing new under the sun.” 

And, that certainly applies to this pandemic. 

In 1918, the Spanish flu pandemic rocked the globe. 

And, in hopes of learning from history (as opposed to repeating it) scientists and health care professionals have been seeking to glean wisdom from this tragedy in the years since. 

So, let’s see how we’re measuring up in this current crisis. 

Are we repeating the mistakes of the Spanish Flu?

Or have we learned our lessons? 

Let’s take a look…

Do Not Enter

If a strain of flu managed to make its way around the entire globe over 100 years ago, we’d be silly to think that here in the day and age of all things travel (leisure, work, school, political, etc.) that things wouldn’t be worse in this regard.

Thankfully, it appears that we took notes on this day in class a century ago. 

One community in 1918 Alaska nearly escaped the effects of the pandemic entirely by closing off travel from its surrounding bay. 

Gleaning from such Spanish Flu models, travel bans have been put in place all across the globe in varying capacities since the early days of the Covid-19 battle. 

Here in the United States travel bans concerning hot spots like China and Italy were put in place in late January and in March.

The “S-Word”

We’ve heard about it so much that it’s practically in that category of words now. You know, the kind that either you or your parents would have gotten their mouths washed out with soap for saying as kids.

Yep, at this point in these pandemic-quelling efforts, we’re so tired of hearing about… 

Social distancing. 

But, when taking a look at how the Spanish flu pandemic was handled, a repeat in this category may be something that we’re getting right amidst all of this today. 

It has been found that those communities that did not practice social distancing suffered much higher death rates than those that did. 

Some Spanish flu scholars consider social distancing efforts in 1918 to be some of the most successful measures at controlling the spread of the virus. 

In fact, the deadly “second wave” of the Spanish flu is thought to have been brought on by a premature relaxing of social distancing measures. 

But, after that second wave hit, realizing that people, like today, were fully “over” the isolation, they focused their efforts in a more specialized manner. 

And, I think you’ll find this next measure then, is also a lesson straight from the 1918 pandemic playbook. 


Another dirty word, I know. 

But, when the notorious second wave hit during the Spanish flu pandemic, and, as we just mentioned, the general public had truly had enough of the social distancing measures, health officials zeroed in on those who were truly ill. 

Those who were symptomatic, in other words those who were sick, were made to quarantine or isolate themselves from the healthy public. 

We’ve seen these efforts from the onslaught of this battle with the Covid-19 pandemic here in the US. 

And, while I’ll never tip my hat to tyranny, those state and local communities who came together practicing sensible measures of quarantine to isolate and get ahead of this virus, seem to have done so with the 1918 lessons-learned in mind. 

In fact, the initial goal laid before “we the people,” was to employ these century old pandemic lessons to slow the spread and avoid overwhelming our healthcare system. 

So, in thinking of this system, how did the Spanish flu impact what we know both as common healthcare practices and pandemic battling measures now? 

Public Health Care

Low income communities and areas where poor nutrition and improper hygiene were rampant were hit very hard by the Spanish flu. 

During this time, public health systems were not yet advanced, and in some areas they were non-existent. 

Sadly, the lack of public health care access for such individuals often proved tragic. 

Worldwide, both scientists and governments alike saw the need for public health system advancements.

So then, how do we see these things implemented in today’s Covid crisis?

  • resources are distributed locally to areas badly hit 
  • critical care facilities are more widely available
  • communication across public health systems has improved (aiding in response)
  • diagnosis is more accurate and has widespread capabilities
  • those battling the virus are quarantined, limiting the spread of illness
  • movements of the population are limited

These protocols and procedures are specifically attributed to advancements in our public health care systems as a result of the lessons learned in times of pandemic tragedy. 

But, is there one thing we perhaps haven’t gotten a grasp on just yet?

The Truth Will Set You Free

Fake news isn’t just a buzz phrase here in 2020. Unfortunately, it’s a real problem. 

From misinformation to sensationalism, lack of truth in the press and stemming from government officials was a problem in 1918, and…

It’s a problem today. 

In 1918, it was said that government officials lessened the seriousness of the outbreak and how badly it was spreading. And, this misinformation led to even greater spread. 

Today we seem to be experiencing the opposite end of that spectrum as government officials and the mainstream media force-feed us 5 courses of fear on a 24/7 loop. 

In 1918 misinformation about the seriousness of the virus led to greater spread. The fear and conflicting information being served up today will also have consequences only time will reveal. 

In studying the Spanish flu, the general mistrust of the media, scientists, and government officials was addressed. 

The belief was that a continued climate of distrust coming from the general public towards these agencies could cause a failure to trust the guidance they lay out. 

Sound familiar?

Amidst all of the conflicting information on this pandemic, one may wonder if this is already the case as we cross the 6 month line in these pandemic fighting efforts now? 

Confusion is never good in the middle of a pandemic. It breeds the distrust that those evaluating the Spanish flu feared for our day and time. 

But, fear is just as bad, even potentially worse, as it weakens the immune system. And, that’s the last thing you need when dealing with a viral pandemic!

The Spanish flu did not last forever, and neither will Covid-19. This pandemic was thankfully not as severe as that of 1918.

And the truth is that we have resources today that simply were not available in 1918.

So take advantage of advances in technology and try to keep the emotions out of your decision making process!

This is for your safety…

President Donald Trump revived the coronavirus briefing Tuesday, saying the pandemic is going to get worse before it gets better.

“Some areas of our country are doing very well,” Trump told reporters. “Others are doing less well. It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better – something I don’t like saying about things but that’s the way it is.”

As the country is trying to open back up, there are flare-ups and spikes of cases all over the country.

Some counties that opened up are going back under lockdown!

And the predictions for the fall and winter are not looking good.

It’s likely that you will be required to wear a mask this fall if you want to do anything around other people…

…any kind of shopping

…going to a family or church event

…getting in to watch a game or a race…

But, most masks aren’t that great.

They leak around the top of your nose and below your mouth.

They fall down.

They are hot and uncomfortable.

…and, frankly, most don’t work that well.

Luckily, we have secured 95% filtering, comfortable masks.

We’re offering a discount of up to 40% off.

And they ship out of our Salt Lake City warehouse the day after you order them.

Click here to see if there are any left!


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