The Flu vs. Covid 19 – A Look Back Through History

The Flu vs. COVID-19 - A Look Back Through History

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - One comment we've heard a lot from viewers...

“This happens every year. So, how is this any different from the flu?”

Yes, there are many similarities. In fact, one of them goes back a hundred years.

If you drive out of Lubbock on West 19th street, you’ll see the Carlisle Cemetery just west of Upland.

That’s where a prominent land owner set aside some of his property for a cemetery in 1918, the year of an epidemic that afflicted more than 25% of the nation’s population. At that time, signs were posted everywhere like the one in Chicago that in big letters: Go home and go to bed until you are well.

Scientists could not identify this strange new disease... which today we call the flu. It is remembered in our history books as the influenza epidemic of 1918. It is remembered here at home by the unmarked crosses resting along with George Wood, the only person named as a victim of that pandemic 100 years ago in a historical marker that stands at the entrance to the cemetery

Katherine Wells, director of the Lubbock Health Department, recalls, “I think it’s the flu in 1918, that’s the last time we’ve had this much disease come through a community.”

It’s a similarity we would like to ignore, but Wells explains that the coronavirus is called novel for a reason. It is new… just like the flu came out of nowhere in 1918. She says, ‘This [COVID-19] is a virus that humans have not been infected with before. So nobody in this community has any immunities. And with the flu, we have multiple strains of the flu that float around every year, sometimes worse than others. But most of us have had some exposure to the flu with flu shots or the flu virus so we have some immunity built in.”

The good news is we are better able to fight a new virus in this day and age because today, we have more technology, we have ventilators among other new ways to help patients recover from any illness. Eventually, scientists will develop treatment and a vaccine for COVID-19 much like they have for the flu. And Wells adds that eventually, people will get tougher, too, in the fight against coronavirus. She says, “Over time, we will get more and more people who have been infected with it, and they will have some immunity. But until that happens, the only way to stop this is to slow it down through social distancing.”

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