The thoughts of a writer.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Is COVID-19 Unprecedented?

I keep hearing how COVID-19 and our response to it is unprecedented. Yet when I read history, I can find cholera, smallpox, ebola, and polio. What is unprecedented for us, has occurred in history. Polio brought things like the iron lung, death and crippled children. It caused playgrounds and movie theaters to shut down every summer. As bad as this is, it is not unprecedented. I'm hoping the Minnesota Historical Society, an organization I have some familiarity with, will take up the challenge to show us how polio changed our world. Years ago I worked in the former Sister Kenny Institute after it had become the Hennepin County Chemical Health building. Before that, it had been the Lymanhurst Hospital School for children with tuberculosis. I know this because I researched and wrote an article for the staff newsletter about those haunted halls. COVID-19 might be unprecedented for us, but not for history.  -Kevin J. Cutris

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