Pandemics are nothing new to the world. Lessons from the “Spanish Flu” of 1918 are helping scientists to discover coping mechanisms for our newest pandemic, COVID-19.

According to WLLP, if you look at some of the information from the 1918 pandemic, the similarities to COVID-19 are astounding. Albany is one of the oldest towns in American and back in 1918 doctors and hospital workers were struggling to treat and save the lives of their patients.

Schools in Albany were closed, churches were closed and people were frightened and dying. Officials in Albany did some of the same things that we are doing today. People were isolated, quarantined and were definitely required to wear masks.

Dr. Dennis Metzger is a professor and chair of the Department of Immunology and Microbial Disease at Albany Medical College. Dr. Metzger studied the pandemic of 1918 and he saw similarities. He said, “back then they didn’t know what they were dealing with. Eventually, they were able to control the infection through isolation primarily. There was no vaccine.“ In 2019 into 2020 we are just beginning to learn what we are dealing with.

An Albany city historian, Tony Opalka, also spoke about the Spanish Flu. He explained that there are similarities between the pandemic of 1918 and COVID-19. People wore masks and schools were closed. There were 7,000 people in Albany diagnosed with the Spanish flu and 420 people died in just one month.

One big difference for the residents of Albany was that the harsh social restrictions did not last for a whole year. It was really bad for about one month, then the restrictions were slowly lifted.

It looks like history is repeating itself. One of my favorite quotes that I live by is "there is nothing new under the sun". It is up to us to learn from history and to fight COVID-19 just like they had to fight the Spanish flu in 1918 and 1919. We have to follow the advice of our medical experts, mask up, practice social distancing, and wash your hands!

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