Except for a minor fourth wave early in 1920, U.S. pandemic fatalities dwindled and virtually ended in the summer of 1919. One is hard pressed to think of a group of people who are more suited to fight a disease or war, on or off the ice. They paid $100 and received $10,000. Slightly over a century ago, in January 1918, doctors at a military camp in Haskell County, Kansas, USA, were puzzled by cases of local soldiers with severe flu symptoms. For the most up-to-date COVID-19 information from the Canadian government please visit Canada.ca/COVID19. Most of the victims died of bacterial pneumonia, a secondary infection that closely followed the flu. Some argued that sales of something that only pays if you die should be banned on moral grounds, even though many of the policies acted like personal pensions and savings plans. It was a bacterial infection started by an American Army experimental vaccine. Some countries and regions were affected much worse than others. (Perhaps that’s an ordinance that should be resurrected in the current COVID-19 environment!). This was the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918-19, which killed an astounding 50 million worldwide. The war and massive troop movements spread it to all points of the globe. Alfonso XIII, the King of Spain, ruled a socially divided country with most of its close to 20,000,000 citizens impoverished because of the lack of trade and supplies that resulted from World War I. I would call it the 20th century’s first and greatest longevity shock. Spanish Flu, or more accurately the 1918 influenza pandemic, is one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history. How much could you save with the Liberals’ $400 home office deduction? For the record, October 1918 was the worst month, and churches, schools and theatres were closed. "They make a good foil for one another," says J. Alexander Navarro, assistant director for the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. The 1918 flu was first observed in Europe, America and parts of … A full century later whenever some enterprising politician or lawmaker threatens to tinker with any of the tax or regulatory benefits enjoyed by the insurance industry, the retort and defense of the status quo inevitably revolves around references to widows and orphans that will be left destitute. In the most extreme cases the signs of severe illness included hemorrhaging (i.e. In particular, what was completely unexpected at the time was the age distribution of who was infected and who died. We all know that the “Spanish Flu” started at the end of World War I in 1918.One of the things people don’t know is that censorship in the warring nations prevented it from being reported properly. That is, approximately 500 million people became ill around the world. In other words, they hadn’t really charged enough in premiums to cover the risk, but those were rare cases and overall companies had enough reserves to cover payouts. "He did it in a step-wise fashion.". News of the flu spreading through Boston, Philadelphia and other cities provided early warnings, and officials took notice. Ah, those good old days. Alas, when Spain’s reigning king Alfonso XIII was infected (in the spring 1918) with the flu (for a second time, actually) and suffered the above-noted symptoms, the world’s media included regular updates on his status. The essence of risk pooling is the risk of having many people buying insurance who never make a claim or do so very far into the future. The corner of Broad and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, during the 1918 parade and today. Even during years of war, the famed hockey league managed to cobble together enough reserve players – the real teams had volunteered and went off to fight – and managed to complete a full season. Needless to say, antibiotics had not yet been developed and commercialized, but even if they had been, they could not have stopped the virus. Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA There is also another reason. Spain maintained its neutrality during World War One (WW1) and news from there was uncensored. "There was also the realization that government could take a stronger role in disease prevention.". Media reports among both the Allied and Central powers, were limited and tame. And again, it was the youngest (chronologically) adults who experienced the highest death rate. Don’t get me wrong. Then, the king of Spain — Alfonso XIII — and several other members of his government contracted the flu. The full-page ad was ominous sounding with its emphasis on “sudden”: “Spanish Influenza: Can You Afford Sudden Death?” I presume most people could only afford the gradual kind of death. This might sound quite odd, crass and perhaps even cruel, but it’s true. But history wasn’t kind to him. The death toll is estimated … But the reality was surprisingly quite different. Later, in the 1920s, the insurance industry went even one step further and created advertisements in magazines and newspapers that capitalized on (or some might say took advantage of) the Spanish flu. All rights reserved Moshe Milevsky © 2020 - Moshe Milevsky, Back To Fashion Brands Are Going “Carbon Neutral”—But What Does That Mean? The Spanish flu came in three waves as is illustrated in Figure 1. The term “Spanish flu” was a misnomer because the disease did not originate in Spain. It might seem to be magic, or perhaps a ponzi scheme, to those who aren’t familiar with the principle of insurance. Date, location, odds, halftime show for Super Bowl 55, ‘The Disney Holiday Singalong’ Hits High Note To Top Monday Ratings; ‘The Neighborhood’ Ticks Up. It was named the Spanish flu when Spanish newspapers reported its presence on World War I battlefields and after Spanish King Alfonso XIII was reported as recovering after contracting the flu in May 1918. But in their defense, the insurance industry wasn’t the only group taking advantage of the nascent salience of the Spanish flu to flog commercial and industrial products. The military plays a significant part in the two-city comparison. St. Louis had far fewer fatalities than Philadelphia. After five games the championship was cancelled. King Alfonso XIII of Spain (r. 1886-1931). One thing is for certain, the Spanish flu was deadlier than World War I, although with fewer memorials, statues or statutory holidays. It killed an estimated 50 million or more people worldwide, 675,000 in the USA alone. Businesses protested closings. St. Louis was the sixth-largest city in the USA with a population of about 756,000. From that large unlucky group, between 10% to 20% died from causes related to the virus, leading to a mortality rate of between 3% and 6% globally. First, 99% of the deaths in the U.S. from the Spanish flu were individuals under the age of 65, and half of the deaths from the flu were young and middle-aged people between the ages of 20 and 40. The war was funded by a combination of higher taxes and the sale of Liberty Bonds, which were securities issued by the Treasury Department to raise money. The ‘Spanish flu’ killed more than the First World War, possibly more even than the Second World War – indeed, perhaps more than both put together. The National Underwriter (a popular industry magazine) wrote the following on January 16, 1919. The more an individual was willing and able to fight the disease, the more it fought back. Estimated overall death rate per 100,000 population for 1918 flu: NOTE Excess pneumonia and influenza mortality rate, Sept. 14, 1918-May 31, 1919, from 1913-17 baseline; SOURCE Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But I can tell you, its reputation was worse then. Life insurance products thus gained broad social utility and respectability during the 1920s and 1930s. In other countries, this outbreak in Spain was reported in the news with no mention of what was happening locally, which made it seem unique to that country, and the name Spanish flu was born. "The U.S. was used to epidemics. The insurance industry had an appalling image in the decade or two before the Spanish flu pandemic, and some might argue it still does. Daddy Yankee achieves new balance, readies for his comeback, Flowers, small kitchen tools and handwritten cards: Fine dining does takeout during COVID lockdown, The 2020 British Fashion Awards Names 20 People and Brands Leading Positive Change in the Industry, Page to continue in ‘The Umbrella Academy’ after coming out. '", And finally, there was the shadow of World War I itself. But it’s more than just young versus old. SOURCES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; University of Pennsylvania, Archives and Records Center; National Institutes of Health; National Endowment for the Humanities; Library of Congress; Federal Reserve History; Museum of American Finance; National Bureau of Economic Research; "When We Have a Few More Epidemics, the City Officials Will Awake," published master's thesis of historian Jeffery Anderson, Rutgers, 1997; "The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History" by John M. Barry, 2004; "Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World" by Laura Spinney, 2017; "America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918" by Alfred W. Crosby, 1989; "Pandemic 1918: Eyewitness Accounts from the Greatest Medical Holocaust in Modern History" by Catherine Arnold, 2018; "Influenza: The Hundred-Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History" by Dr. Jeremy Brown, 2018, USA TODAY research by George Petras; illustrations and graphics by Karl Gelles, This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 100 years ago, Philadelphia chose a parade over social distancing during the 1918 Spanish flu – and paid a heavy price, Like us on Facebook to see similar stories, Pace of job gains slows to 62,000 in November, Statistics Canada says, November 2020 jobs report: The US only added 245,000 jobs in November as jobs engine stalls, North American stocks up in early trading, loonie tops 78 cents US, 25 of the best holiday gifts to give (or get) this year, Report: NHL, NHLPA mulling draft schedules; both sides prefer 56-game slate, 10 signs you’re emotionally unavailable for relationships, Our Resident Cheese Plater's Gift Guide for Cheese Lovers Everywhere, 2021 Dodge Challenger Adds Gold Rush Color From 50th Anniversary Edition. A painful and rapid death followed the symptoms with a very high probability, with the official cause of death being pneumonia or massive hemorrhaging itself. Starkloff reimposed restrictions as infection cases rose again in November 1918. King Alfonso XIII of Spain became very ill with Spanish Flu in late May 1918. Many countries in Europe as well as the U.S. were rightfully hesitant to allow open reporting of the new and deadly flu – for fear it would impact the troops’ morale – and used the war censorship process to conceal the extent of the pandemic. The Spanish monarch King Alfonso XIII was one of the first victims of the pandemic. St. Louis fared better than other cities. St. Louis is about 17 miles north of Jefferson Barracks, at that time a large Army mobilization point, and Philadelphia was home to the U.S. Navy’s busy Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, which housed about 45,000 sailors. But, by early March 1918, American doctors and pathologists realized they were dealing with a very different beast. Blog Page. What people did then is familiar to what we're doing today, including self-isolation, guarding against coughing and sneezing, and limiting public gatherings. The only time in history that the Stanley Cup hockey finals ever had to be canceled was in 1919, during the third and final wave of the Spanish flu, which hit in the spring of that year. The United States entered the war April 6, 1917. Remember, this was decades before (the old New Deal) what today is called Social Security in the U.S. Alas, with the heartbreaking tragedy of death that was experienced in communities all over the U.S., there were financial winners and financial losers. It really made a difference," McKinsey says. Parade marchers mingled with crowds, and "in the week following the parade, physicians and nurses reported 4,541 new cases of influenza, nearly nine times the number reported for the week prior to the Liberty Loan march,” Anderson wrote. States and cities devised their own strategies because "the federal government really didn't do a lot," McKinsey says. 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The East Coast and Philadelphia "were hit at a much earlier stage of the pandemic," says David McKinsey, an infectious disease physician at the Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Subjects of stories in American periodicals after the flu (in inches of column space): NOTE Prohibition was the ban on sale of alcoholic beverages in the U.S.; Bolsheviks were far-left Marxist revolutionaries who killed the czar in 1917 and started a communist regime in Russia; SOURCE The Readers Guide to Periodical Literature, 1919-1921, as cited in "America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918" by Alfred Crosby.
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