Dear Church Family,
I hope you are being patient in these trying times. Last year we waited an extra 5 months for an overdue elevator. Now we are waiting for better and healthier days. I have taken the time to watch the PBS American Experience Video on the 1918 Flu Pandemic a few times. It is a way to learn some lessons with a little emotional and political distance from it all.
That virus struck swiftly, killing thousands, and sickening millions. In both cases, there was no vaccine, and no treatment for the disease. The health care system was overwhelmed.
They didn’t even know it was a virus. They had been studying microbes, and knew that it was transferred to others by coughing and sneezing. Viruses were not discovered until the 1930’s when we had more powerful microscopes. Since they didn’t know what it was, there was no way to test for it.
During 2018 – 2019 it swept across the world in three waves. By the end 675,000 Americans were dead. The flu pandemics of 1957, 1968, and 2009 claimed 225,000 lives in total. We do know that the 1918 flu was more infectious that the current one. It causes symptoms much faster. It targeted the young and healthy, although all ages were affected. People in the prime of their life were struck down and quickly died. They could not identify it or test for it. The fear was immense.
As with all pandemics, there was the tension with the economy and public health. This is a real concern. A unique factor is that the 1918 flu hit at a critical time in WWI. The first federal draft was taking place, and there was a massive federal push to quickly end this horrible war. These soldiers were the target age of this flu. They quickly came home in body bags in large numbers. The close quarters of army camps were the perfect place for the flu to spread. It became impossible to separate the war casualties from those of the flu. This happened in stateside military bases.as well.
In the fall of 2018, the flu emerged again in a more deadly strain. It later came back for one more round of devastation. People got bored after a few months, and exposed themselves more to those infected, and the death rates climbed again.
Here are some learnings. Take the long view. Stay away form large groups. Take good care of your health. Be patient. This will all come to a quiet end and join the long list of past pandemics. Psalm 103:2-3 says “Praise the Lord…do not forget all his benefits…who heals all of your diseases.”