Update on History

A little less than a month ago, I wrote a post about how history has a pesky tendency to provide a key to what the present and future may look like. Written a day before President Donald Trump’s re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it centered on a parade held in Philadelphia with the insistence of President Woodrow Wilson during the 1918 influenza pandemic.

In the days that followed, the cities recorded a spike in cases. Additional parallels between the two–including the presidents’ similar responses to the pandemic and the economic and social repercussions–have proven to be remarkable.

Consider these two graphs. The left shows the number of U.S. influenza cases from January to July, 2020. The graph on the right reveals the estimated figures for U.S. deaths per 1000 in the first wave of the 1918 pandemic which was considered over in August. By mid-September the death curve shoots straight up as the second wave began.