Gloves & Hankies: Lessons from the 1918 Flu Pandemic (video)

Just when we humans think the world is at our command, the hand of destiny shows us that it isn’t.

The new coronavirus from China is rocking the world’s largest economy, messing with the supply chain of globalization, and showing us that suppression of vital public health information in order to save face is bad policy.

COVID-19 has spread to different cities in China, Iran, South Korea, other countries in south east Asia, and up into Europe. They are expecting the new flu to come to the US. Public health officials had dire warnings earlier this week. They told Congress that we should expect to have “our lives disrupted” and to practice “staying apart from each other”!

What is the Trump administration doing to get a head of the flu? They put some money into it (perhaps too little too late), but Trump is following the same path as authoritarians in China and Iran and trying to gloss over the effects of the flu as it begins to hit our shores.

This should be a worldwide wake up call, not a time when we put our heads in the sand.

My family changed forever after the 1918 flu pandemic. Both my Grandma and Grandpa Springer lost their first spouses to the flu. Amherst was a tiny German town back then. Emma, Wilhelm, and their young boys all went to St. Peter’s Church, so it is not surprising that they married each other and raised a yours, mine, and ours family in the early 1920s. Grandma and Grandpa made a new family from their personal tragedies.

Grandma never forgot the lessons she learned from the flu. She was our babysitter for years and taught us many lessons about staying healthy, avoiding colds and what to do when you’re sick.

This video addresses lessons from 1918 flu pandemic like bundling up and avoiding the spread of disease. Grandma never left the house without a hat or a babushka on her head, gloves to protect her from germs, and a hankie to sneeze or cough into. A few modern day lessons to avoid the flu include getting a flu shot, washing your hands with soap, and doing the public health fist bump instead of handshakes. I have been doing the fist bump in my office, and the lobbyists appreciate it.

If someone in your household gets sick, wear gloves and a mask around the house and get out the disinfectant. The photo above is me back in 2013 when Jim and his entire family got a horrible flu. Two of his family members even ended up in the hospital. I was the only one who didn’t get it because I didn’t touch anything that Jim touched, swabbed all of the surfaces with disinfectant wipes, wore a mask around him, and slept in the living room. The precautions worked. I was able to help him and not get sick myself.

Also, very important but difficult to do these days, stay home and rest when you’re sick. Illness runs rampant in workplaces, schools, and the day care centers when people go to work sick.

Stay healthy! Take care of yourself.

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