Government and Media Responses to Pandemics, Then and Now

Here is William Sullivan giving some history on pandemics:

The H1N1 virus (colloquially known as swine flu) was “first detected in April of 2009 in the United States, and spread quickly around the world,” despite the virus being of Mexican origin, as we later discovered.  The Obama administration had declared it a “public health emergency” in late April, and by June, the World Health Organization declared it the “first flu pandemic in 40 years.”

It wasn’t until October of 2009, though, that Obama personally recognized it as a national emergency with the “potential to overburden health care resources in some localities.”  By that time, over one thousand Americans had died from it.  The CDC estimates that between 151,700 and 575,400 people died worldwide from H1N1 virus infection in the first year that it circulated.  These were not typically older patients with pre-existing infirmities who were being killed by the infections, either.  Unlike the seasonal flu, the H1N1 almost exclusively affected children and adults under 65.  It was quite easily transmitted from person to person, too, passed “by exposure to infected droplets expelled by coughing or sneezing that can be inhaled, or that can contaminate hands or surfaces.”

In the end, over 60 million Americans were infected by H1N1.  It led to 273,304 hospitalizations and 12,469 deaths in the U.S. alone.

Yet Americans generally just went about their lives, with no holistic directives from President Obama or any of the state governors that schools, restaurants, or businesses be closed, or that private gatherings should be limited to a particular size.  One can hardly remember it even being news at all, and if one does, it is remembered as casual warnings to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay away from work and others if you feel ill.

Read more: American Thinker

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