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aside from Trump's constant “1917” gaffes, the 1918 pandemic still has lessons

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Trump still refers to the 1918 pandemic as happening in 1917 because he saw the recent war movie, which was not about the flu. Remember how he got the US to build a southern border fence by using “wall” as a mnemonic device for “immigrants”.

Trump’s grandfather died in the 1918 Influenza pandemic which is something he never acknowledges, because “weakness”. Hence “1918” is an antimnemonic for “grandfather” much like how Trump instead regularly refers to his father as being born in Germany (he wasn’t).

However, a more insidious reason for Trump’s repeated insistence on “1917” requires the selective use of a 2014 study’s footnote citing a Chinese 1917 epidemic and British colonial laborers which was pushed by a RW website that ignores subsequent findings in 2016 and 2018 debunking the claim. Fortunately Trump doesn’t read that closely.

The second COVID-19 wave could be worse, especially considering the relative vulnerability of the co-morbid populations and the perpetual problems of human behavior. The 1918 pandemic remains a useful object lesson in not relenting in mitigating the contagion.

But three weeks after that celebration of removing their masks, the city saw a dramatic resurgence. Officials at first rejected the idea of reopening the city and suggested residents could voluntarily wear face coverings.

But shortly after the New Year in 1919, the city was hit with 600 new cases in one day, prompting the Board of Supervisors to re-enact the mandatory mask ordinance. Protests against the mandate eventually led to the formation of the Anti-Mask League. The detractors eventually got their way when the order was lifted in February.

San Francisco’s ambivalence to quarantine measures ran counter to other U.S. cities, though. Navarro said Los Angeles, for instance, implemented strict social distancing and face coverings about a week before San Francisco did and its measures stayed in place for weeks longer.

Navarro said that many cities often became complacent once they saw a dip in cases, and when a resurgence happens residents often question the public health guidance.

“They were flattening that curve; they just weren’t realizing it,” Navarro said. “A lot of people thought, ‘Well, what did we go through that for? It did have an impact, they just didn’t know it.”

As Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, put it in March, “If it looks like you’re overreacting, you’re probably doing the right thing.”

Back during the Spanish flu, San Francisco’s failure to take swift action and the decision to ease restrictions after only a few weeks had huge ramifications. With 45,000 cases and more than 3,000 deaths, the city was reported to have been one of, if not, the hardest-hit big city.

Roughly a century later, the San Francisco Bay Area imposed the nation’s first stay-at-home order and other restrictions when coronavirus cases were rapidly growing, placing a spotlight on its pandemic response again. Those aggressive actions are credited with saving lives, avoiding the scale of the tragedy found in New York City.…


The Spanish flu, also known as the 1918 flu pandemic, was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic. Lasting almost 36 months from January 1918 to December 1920, it infected 500 million people – about a third of the world’s population at the time.[2] The death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in human history.[3]

To maintain morale, World War I censors minimized early reports of illness and mortality in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. Newspapers were free to report the epidemic’s effects in neutral Spain, such as the grave illness of King Alfonso XIII, and these stories created a false impression of Spain as especially hard hit. This gave rise to the name Spanish flu. Historical and epidemiological data are inadequate to identify with certainty the pandemic’s geographic origin, with varying views as to its location.


A study conducted by He et al. (2011) used a mechanistic modeling approach to study the three waves of the 1918 influenza pandemic. They examined the factors that underlie variability in temporal patterns and their correlation to patterns of mortality and morbidity. Their analysis suggests that temporal variations in transmission rate provide the best explanation, and the variation in transmission required to generate these three waves is within biologically plausible values.[98]

Another study by He et al. (2013) used a simple epidemic model incorporating three factors to infer the cause of the three waves of the 1918 influenza pandemic. These factors were school opening and closing, temperature changes throughout the outbreak, and human behavioral changes in response to the outbreak. Their modeling results showed that all three factors are important, but human behavioral responses showed the most significant effects.[99]

A 2020 study found that US cities that implemented early and extensive non-medical measures (quarantine etc.) suffered no additional adverse economic effects due to implementing those measures,[100] when compared with cities that implemented measures late or not at all.[101]…

2017 warnings:

Darn that past being prologue

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