Pandemic photos from 1918 show what has changed in a century—and what hasn't

We all know history has a habit of repeating itself, but the fact that we find ourselves in a global pandemic almost exactly 100 years after the last major one feel almost too on the nose.

While the coronavirus outbreak differs from the Spanish flu pandemic in some important ways, there are also some striking similarities. The same uncertainty of how to handle it. The same differences of opinion on how bad it could get. The difference now is that we have a whole lot more science to help us figure it all out—but also a massive information machine that feeds off of people's misunderstandings of how science works and makes it easy for misinformation to spread like wildfire.

Good times.

But it can be eye-opening to look at historical documentation of a similar event, especially through photographs depicting the details of daily life. As we're all in various stages of lockdown or reopening, mask-wearing and physical distancing, it's fascinating to see people a century ago dealing with the same things.


CBS Sunday Morning did a segment on the 1918 pandemic in early March, just before states in the U.S. began coronavirus shutdowns. From some physicians downplaying the Spanish flu as "old-fashioned influenza, nothing more" to people wearing masks in public—or refusing to—there are so many parallels to what we're experiencing now.

The story of the 1918 flu pandemic www.youtube.com

Watching this segment now, several months into the pandemic, is really something, isn't it? One thing to be thankful for is that we're not in the middle of a world war while also dealing with coronavirus outbreak, though we do have our own era's social and political upheaval happening at the same time. Let's just all sign a pact to not add an all-out war on top of everything else we've got going on. 2020 has been eventful enough.


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Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

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I got married and started working in my early 20s, and for more than two decades I always had employer-provided health insurance. When the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka "Obamacare")was passed, I didn't give it a whole lot of thought. I was glad it helped others, but I just assumed my husband or I would always be employed and wouldn't need it.

Then, last summer, we found ourselves in an unexpected scenario. I was working as a freelance writer with regular contract work and my husband left his job to manage our short-term rentals and do part-time contracting work. We both had incomes, but for the first time, no employer-provided insurance. His previous employer offered COBRA coverage, of course, but it was crazy expensive. It made far more sense to go straight to the ACA Marketplace, since that's what we'd have done once COBRA ran out anyway.

The process of getting our ACA healthcare plan set up was a nightmare, but I'm so very thankful for it.

Let me start by saying I live in a state that is friendly to the ACA and that adopted and implemented the Medicaid expansion. I am also a college-educated and a native English speaker with plenty of adult paperwork experience. But the process of getting set up on my state's marketplace was the most confusing, frustrating experience I've ever had signing up for anything, ever.

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$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


Schools often have to walk a fine line when it comes to parental complaints. Diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and preferences for what kids see and hear will always mean that schools can't please everyone all the time, so educators have to discern what's best for the whole, broad spectrum of kids in their care.

Sometimes, what's best is hard to discern. Sometimes it's absolutely not.

Such was the case this week when a parent at a St. Louis elementary school complained in a Facebook group about a book that was read to her 7-year-old. The parent wrote:

"Anyone else check out the read a loud book on Canvas for 2nd grade today? Ron's Big Mission was the book that was read out loud to my 7 year old. I caught this after she watched it bc I was working with my 3rd grader. I have called my daughters school. Parents, we have to preview what we are letting the kids see on there."

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The epidemic of violence against Indigenous women in America is one of the country's most disturbing trends. A major reason it persists is because it's rarely discussed outside of the native community.

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