Sometime in the last months someone shared a statistic with me. I’m wary of statistics in general. I used to tell my students that 79% of them were made up. Or 82%. Or whatever number I felt like throwing out there. They never questioned me.

At any rate, back to the point, someone shared that 65% of the American population died during the Spanish Flu pandemic. I found this number rather startling. Over half of the population of our country DIED? How in the world did we manage to bounce back from that?

Turns out we didn’t. Because the statistic is wrong. Someone (not the person who told me the statistic) is bad with decimals.

I did my own research and the number I found was .65% of the population in a year and a half of Spanish Flu. Granted, numbers are not my forte, but that number seems a little more believable. And to put the number to people, it means that 675,000 people died in that year and a half. . . .mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, friends. It is still a staggering amount of loved ones to lose to a virus that is unemotional and unbiased.

You brought me to a museum? Seriously?

I was given the original stated statistic because someone was making the argument that Covid-19 was “not a big deal”. The numbers were “worse for Spanish Flu and the government didn’t panic and institute such restrictions on the citizenry.”

Recently, Steven and I took Peter to the High Point Museum. Something to do on a Saturday afternoon to get out of the house. Peter appropriately scowled at being dragged to a museum by his enthusiastic parents, at least until we got outside to the onsite blacksmith who was hammering at making some “sporks” for some local Boy Scouts.

Information about High Point’s response to smallpox and Spanish Flu.

However, inside the museum we read a lot about the establishment and growth of our little High Point. We were interested in discovering that in 1899 smallpox broke out. Under city ordinance, the sick were quarantined and every one else was inoculated. Visitors to the great city were required to show proof of vaccination or agree to be vaccinated or they were asked to leave. In 1918 when the Spanish Flu got here, the city council banned public assemblies impacting theaters, clubs, and churches. The disease spread through factories and businesses that were allowed to remain open.

But, you know, we live in unprecedented times, right?