HPS Colloquium - Alexander Navarro

July 8, 2020 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

“The Past as Prologue: Lessons of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic”

Presenter: Alexander Navarro (Center for the History of Medicine, University of Michigan)
Discussant: Mari Webel (Department of History, University of Pittsburgh)

Starting in 2005, the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan embarked on a series of federally-sponsored research projects examining the public health measures used during the deadly fall wave of the 1918 influenza pandemic. Our work demonstrated that the use of nonpharmaceutical interventions (school and business closures, public gathering bans, isolation and quarantine, and other ancillary measures) in an early, layered, and sustained manner in 1918 was associated with better outcomes. These findings became the basis for the CDC’s pandemic response guidance. Our research also uncovered a trove of qualitative information from each city we studied, including examples of compliance and cooperation, acts of defiance and political pushback, legal challenges to health orders, and internecine struggles within various levels of government. Just as the quantitative data gleaned from the 1918 pandemic experience informed current public health policy, there are many lessons to be learned from these stories as well. This talk will discuss the use of history to inform public health policy and explore some of the ways we might be repeating our past as we continue to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Location and Address

Join us via Zoom. Email dlv23@pitt.edu for Zoom details.