The Atlantic

Pandemics Leave Us Forever Altered

What history can tell us about the long-term effects of the coronavirus
Source: MPI / Getty

In 2008 a young economist named Craig Garthwaite went looking for sick people. He found them in the National Health Interview Survey. Conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau since 1957, the NHIS is the oldest and biggest continuing effort to track Americans’ health. The survey asks a large sample of the citizenry whether it has a variety of ailments, including diabetes, kidney disorders, and several types of heart disease. Garthwaite sought out a particular subset of respondents: people born between October 1918 and June 1919.

Those months were the height and immediate aftermath of the world’s worst-ever influenza pandemic. Although medical data from the time are too scant to be definitive, its first attack is generally said to have occurred in Kansas in March 1918, as the U.S. was stepping up its involvement in the First World War. In a flurry of wartime propaganda, American and European governments downplayed the epidemic, which helped it spread. Estimates of the final death toll range from 17 million to 100 million, depending on assumptions about the number of uncounted victims. Almost 700,000 people are thought to have died in the United States—as a proportion of the population, equivalent to more than 2 million people today.

Remarkably, the calamity left few visible traces in American culture. Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Dos Passos saw its terrible effects firsthand, but almost never mentioned it in their work. Nor did the flu affect U.S. policies—Congress didn’t even allocate extra money for flu research afterward.

Just a few decades after the pandemic, American-history textbooks by the distinguished likes of Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Richard Hofstadter, Henry Steele.

Anda sedang membaca pratinjau, daftarlah untuk membaca selengkapnya.

Lainnya dari The Atlantic

The Atlantic4 mnt membacaDiscrimination & Race Relations
Who’s the Snowflake Now?
If the right likes to call out left-wing theatrical exaggerations, it has also learned from them and in the past weeks has emulated them.
The Atlantic3 mnt membacaAmerican Government
Stocks Don't Care About the Coup
Armed insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, chasing Congress members into hiding and threatening to hang Vice President Mike Pence and shoot House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Congress impeached President Donald Trump for the second time. White nationalists
The Atlantic5 mnt membacaCrime & Violence
Treat The Attack On The Capitol As Terrorism
Failing to do so simply because most of the rioters are white and regard themselves as “patriots” would be deeply unjust.