History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes

On July 17, 2020, History.com published a report entitled, ‘Mask Slackers’ and ‘Deadly’ Spit: The 1918 Flu Campaigns to Shame People Into Following New Rules that contained the following paragraphs that have a contemporary ring to them:

Many of the methods Americans used in 1918 to try to prevent the spread of the flu are similar to what people began doing during the COVID-19 pandemic: Close schools. Wear masks. Don’t cough or sneeze in someone’s face. Avoid large events and hold them outside when possible. And no spitting.

Health and city officials got the word out about these guidelines in all kinds of ways. In Philadelphia, streetcar signs warned “Spit Spreads Death.” In New York City, officials enforced no-spitting ordinances and encouraged residents to cough or sneeze into handkerchiefs (a practice that caught on after the pandemic). The city’s health department even advised people not to kiss “except through a handkerchief,” and wire reports spread the message around the country.

In western states, some cities adopted mask ordinances, and officials argued wearing one was a patriotic duty. In October 1918, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a public service announcement telling readers that “The man or woman or child who will not wear a mask now is a dangerous slacker”—a reference to the type of World War I “slacker” who didn’t help the war effort. One sign in California threatened, “Wear a Mask or Go to Jail.

Consider what is taking place when you block your normal breathing capability by wearing a face covering. Do carbon dioxide and other waste products that you just exhaled merely vanish in a harmless manner, or do some of the moisture-laden particles become embedded onto your face mask or recirculate back into your lungs? Are you putting your health status at risk in the process?

In 2008 the National Institutes of Health published this report entitled, “Bacterial Pneumonia Caused Most Deaths in 1918 Influenza Pandemic” that contained the following paragraph:

The majority of deaths during the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 were not caused by the influenza virus acting alone, report researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID),. Instead, most victims succumbed to bacterial pneumonia following influenza virus infection. The pneumonia was caused when bacteria that normally inhabit the nose and throat invaded the lungs along a pathway created when the virus destroyed the cells that line the bronchial tubes and lungs. A future influenza pandemic may unfold in a similar manner, say the NIAID authors.

On May 19, 2020, the editors for History.com updated their original 2010 report entitled, “Spanish Flu” with the following passage:

The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the deadliest in history, infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans. 

Even though there have been numerous viral outbreaks since the Influenza pandemic of a century ago, it is only during the current Covid-19 crisis that the practice of wearing face coverings has become widespread and enforced globally as a precautionary health measure. How do Covid-19 mortality statistics (not the number of new cases, as hyped by the media) compare with the earlier pandemic?

Coronavirus Death Toll (worldwide) | Worldometer
as of Nov 10, 2020
1,275,382 deaths (vs. 20-50 million during the Spanish Flu pandemic)

Take a look at the chart below. Notice how the United States leads the world in the official number of Covid-19 deaths, even though this nation spends so much more on health care and has a far lower population base that other countries such as India and China.

Reported Covid-19 Cases and Deaths by Country, Territory, or Conveyance
Source: Worldometer

Reports not published by mainstream media sources such as One America News Network’s “CDC Reveals Hospitals Counted Heart Attacks As COVID-19 Deaths” question the accuracy of the Covid-19 death statistics being reported in the United States:

The latest numbers from the CDC reveal hospitals have been counting patients who died from serious preexisting conditions as COVID-19 deaths. One America’s Pearson Sharp has more, as the CDC counts over 51,000 patients who actually died from heart attacks, as opposed to the coronavirus.


While you may have proof that Albert Einstein did not originate the oft-quoted saying that, “Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results,” there is reasonable evidence to suggest that the health response to the Covid-19 outbreak of today is uncannily similar to what was implemented a century ago to an earlier and far more lethal pandemic.  

More things change, the more they stay the same

Other References

What Are Viruses?
By Aparna Vidyasagar | Live Science Contributor 
Jan 6, 2016Viruses are microscopic parasites, generally much smaller than bacteria. They lack the capacity to thrive and reproduce outside of a host body. 

Dr. Lawrence Palevsky
Board-certified New York pediatrician
Northport Wellness Center
Viruses are a millionth of an inch long. We are surrounded by viruses (not just COVID-19) that constantly shed from our body. They are not alive. 

Are Viruses Alive? Although viruses challenge our concept of what “living” means, they are vital members of the web of life
Luis P. Villarreal | Scientific American
Aug 8, 2008
For about 100 years, the scientific community has repeatedly changed its collective mind over what viruses are. First seen as poisons, then as life-forms, then biological chemicals, viruses today are thought of as being in a gray area between living and nonliving: they cannot replicate on their own but can do so in truly living cells and can also affect the behavior of their hosts profoundly.
Human Behavior to Viruses: Then (100 Years Ago) and Now
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