NewsCovering Colorado


The striking similarities between 1918 Flu & current COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 7:53 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 21:53:13-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — It was the tale of two cities, right around the tail end of World War I. One was a small sleepy town, with no more than 30,000 people located at the base of the Rocky mountains. The other was a thriving big city.

A major historical pandemic was happening across the globe, including in Colorado Springs and Denver, just like the pandemic we are facing now.

In 1918 nearly 8,000 people in Colorado, thousands in the U.S., and millions around the world died from what was called the Spanish Flu, even though it did not originate in Spain.

"A hundred years ago seems like that has to be totally different, but they were going through the same questions and the same problems," said Chris Berry, District 11 Social Sciences Instructor at Odyssey E.C.C.O.

Denver and Colorado Springs were under social distancing orders, and the economy was shut down.

"They had kind of an 'M' shaped curve. Their cases went down and then they opened back up, and then the cases went back up, then they closed everything and then the cases went back down," Berry explained. "There seems to be some correlation here."

Berry says business owners in Denver were fed up.

"They went to the mayor and said look we need to open up, especially theaters," he said. "It was funny because in the readings they were called moving picture theaters, so the language is always kind of fun."

Meanwhile, more than 50 miles away in Colorado Springs, our town was getting ready to hold a "Patriot Parade." Berry says it was a way to incentivize people to buy war bonds. Back then, at the beginning of the social distancing orders the the "Patriot Parade" was canceled.

Just two months ago, our city was planning the annual Saint Patrick's Day parade. That event was canceled too.

"Our first order of social distancing closed schools, colleges, all public events, everything."

It's true, technology and medicine have come a long way from 1918, but the pandemic then, and the Coronavirus pandemic now have one other thing in common: the lack of a vaccine. With the exception that in our case, it hasn't been found yet.