Crowds Breed Contagions – Lessons From 1918

Social distancing seems to be a distant thought to some people.

The epidemic of crowds gathering has multiplied from sea to shining sea as photos of people defying social distancing have gone viral.

Mob filled restaurants on Mothers Day in Colorado in defiance of a statewide order. Scores of  thirsty Wisconsinites flock to crowded taverns

A swarm of freedom-loving “don’t tread on me” ladies elbowing each other over the blouse racks at a TJ Maxx in Arknasa skirmishing over a size large “Free People” Tunic.  Congregants flocking to churches, the sound of “Save Me Jesus” sung in unison, loudly, clearly, unmuffled, and unburdened by a mask of any kind.

Thousands of beachgoers converged on California, Florida, and New Jersey beaches wanting a break from isolation at home. Even in NYC ground zero for the pandemic, verdant parks are littered with maskless groups too many too close for comfort while crowds of young people mingle shoulder to shoulder on sidewalks outside bars, mere blocks from Lenox Hill hospital where many lay dying.

No Masks No Worry

Sufferer’s from Coronavirus Cabin Fever, seem to feel that particular ailment is  more unbearable than the risk getting COVID 19

Those opposing sheltering in place assemble, crying that  their civil liberties are under assault (and what better way to put a point on that assault than by toting an assault weapon.)   You know those Right to Lifers who are just dying to get a haircut.  Foregoing face masks,  they are putting their own lives and those of others at high risk, while decrying their right to mix and mingle in a crowd as they please.

As more states begin to relax restrictions, millions are venturing outside into crowded situations, defying the science that social distancing has been the one most proven to be the most effective means to curb the spread of the virus. Avoid crowds.

Even as the death toll rises daily, Trump is dangerously trying to convince Americans its safe to go back to work pushing to open the country before it is prudent.

No history buff he, Trump would do well to learn from the past. History showed us the 1918 flu second wave was the deadliest. That pandemic that killed millions showed the consequences of acting too soon. Just like today Americans were desperate to emerge from quarantine. But a second deadly wave of the virus was lurking in the wings ready to pounce.

For those who still refuse to wear a mask or practice social distancing a wise word from the past. Crowds Breed Contagions.

This ad from Lifebouy soap appeared in 1923 just a few years after the Spanish Influenza epidemic took its toll. Four years after the 1918/1919 Flu pandemic, Americans were still wary of crowds as the dread of disease hung in the air. And for good reason. The public was still panicked. The public had learned a hard lesson from that epidemic.

 How many “Typhoid Marys are in this crowd? Thousands of perfectly well people are unknowingly carriers and spreaders of disease.

Human beings were meant to live in the open, guarded by the prophylactics of sunshine and pure air.

There is always danger of contagion in crowds- in factories, elevators, streetcars, theatre

Doctors and great institutes have proved that most disease germs pass from one person to another by actual contact. Things which many people touch are always dangerous- car straps, public telephones, doorknobs, books, soiled money stair rails. Germs are carried by hand to mouth, nose, or food.

In every crowd, there are almost certainly several “carriers” of disease germs.

A “carrier” is a person who is perfectly well but who formerly had a mild, undiscovered case of diphtheria, influenza, measles, or some other illness. The person soon recovered and became immune to the disease but the germs multiplied by millions, harmless to the “carrier” but of deadly menace to everyone else. “Carriers” move about in every class of society. There are thousands of them

The Spanish Flu epidemic killed millions worldwide but the deaths didn’t occur at once. It started in waves. The spring was generally mild. Those who got sick felt like it was an ordinary flu and recovered in a few days. The number of deaths reported was relatively low thanks in part to self-isolation.

Like today, in 1918 restless Americans were hoping to get back to normal. Families were foregoing face masks, businesses were opening again.

Folks thought the worst was over and all across America governors and mayors were pressured to relax restrictions and reopen the economy. Newspapers were even considered “unpatriotic” for reporting the flu and local officials pressured the media to downplay the diseases spread.

America let its guard down.

Then the flu came back in the fall with a vengeance. From September through November, the death rate of Spanish flu skyrocketed Healthy young men and women were dying by the millions, a terrible horrible death drowning in their own fluid-filled lungs.

While the global pandemic lasted for 2 years a significant number of deaths occurred in the cruel months of the fall of 1918 and winter of 1919.

America Don’t Let Your Guard Down

In every crowd, there are almost certainly several “carriers” of disease germs.

Like the 1918 Spanish Flu, CDC says the second wave of the coronavirus could be worse. We are still in the springtime of this disease. The dark winter and fall await us. We don’t need 2020 hindsight too see what will happen in the fall of 2020.

Opening businesses and rejecting social restrictions in the name of liberty many claim “It’s their own damn business what they choose to do.”

Except it’s not “their” business, it’s our damn business, and the business of the country right now is to stay safe. To save lives.








  1. This week’s most terrifying news may be that 13 sailors from the Theodore Roosevelt wh tested positive, went through quarantine, tested negative, and returned to duty on board have now tested positive for COVID-19 a second time.

    Best case: lots of tests are inaccurate. Worst case: having survived COVID-19 does not confer immunity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is still so much we don’t know about this virus. This is a heartbreaking story. Tests have proven to be unreliable and the antibody tests are equally faulty. The rush to return to normalcy is fraught with so uncertainty and I fear what it will portend.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Not to worry! Our idiot president announced he is taking hydroxychloroquine and he has several risk characteristics for not taking the drug: mobid obesity; heart issues; proclivity to be delusional. If it doesn’t kill him, his direction to take this unexamined and unapproved drug for malaria could kill some Trumpians who believe he knows what he speaks of, further eroding his chances for re-election. Only 169 days to the election.


  3. Let’s ‘hope’🤞🏽 there’ll be enough hospital beds for these mouth breathing dopes!


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