Like many of the readings we have been assigned this year, History.com’s description of the Spanish Flu of 1918 left me frustrated. As Trevor Noah mentioned, it doesn’t make very much sense that 100 years later, the most prudent medical response to a global pandemic is to cover your face with a mask. This (should be) outdated response to a pandemic also resonates with the similarities of problems we face as a society. For example, the article notes that doctors overprescribed aspirin in dosages that were too high as a response to the Spanish Flu. This ineffective diagnosis draws parallels to ineffective medical responses to COVID-19, many of which were endorsed by President Trump. There was also the dilemma of the “anti-maskers” who protested the suggestion of wearing masks in order to prevent a pandemic. It is striking that, 100 years later, there is still a large segment of the United States population who believes that masks are an infringement of their civil liberties rather than a responsible response to a contagious virus.
In addition to medical concerns surrounding the Spanish Flu and COVID-19, there were economic concerns. While this frustration is justifiable, I become frustrated when people prioritize the economy over human lives. My frustration is exacerbating by the fact that the economy cannot recover without the stabilization of the health crisis. This disparity leads me to believe that economic concerns with viruses are manifestations of political narratives, not true economic influences. This inconsistency does not come as a surprise in the era of President Trump, but I wonder if there was a similar frustration with complaints regarding the economy during the Spanish Flu of 1918.