Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 6

On this sixth day a team of public health specialists works at Fort Devens in Massachusetts. They study conditions at Devens following the prior day’s report of an influenza outbreak. But before they had arrived, a group of US soldiers had left Devens, bound for Fort Upton on Long Island, New York. Carrying the sickness unknowingly with them, the soldiers prepare at Long Island to leave for France and join other American soldiers there in the raging World War. A medical officer at Upton states on Day 6 that within hours of their arrival, almost minutes really, influenza spreads “abruptly” within the Long Island military facility. Before the day ends, 38 soldiers show up sick at Upton’s medical quarters. Gauze facemasks are few in number; nurses (like her above on Day 6, found online in National Archives) are lucky to have one. Meanwhile, newspapers across the US receive a formal written description of influenza symptoms from the US Surgeon General, Rupert Blue.

A thought for you on Day 6, March 18, 2020, six days after President Trump declares Covid-19 a national emergency—the ways of people and their customs, organizations, and institutions will require, repeatedly, a jolt and jump-start to act with the speed necessary; if you think the speed is automatically present, think again. And you can help quicken the speed.

(note to reader—my pacing on posts will vary. Sometimes I’ll post every day, sometimes not. If you wish to contact me privately, please do not hesitate to text or call 317-407-3687)