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Lessons from the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic – CBS News



Look at the dates: 1890-1918; 1878-1918; 1896-1918; 1917-1918 … Every person buried on this snowy slope in Barre, Vt, died within days, weeks of each other. “It’s pretty humbling,” said Brian Zecchinelli.

Nearly 200 died that Fall during that other pandemic, the 1918 so-called Spanish Flu.

Zecchinelli and his wife, Karen, own the nearby Wayside Restaurant now. It’s become a Vermont institution. “Effie Ballou opened the Wayside in July of 1918, and two months later the pandemic hits Barre,” he said.

Zecchinelli has never stopped thinking about how little he knew about the 1918 flu – and the fact that the grandfather he never met was one of its victims. He died at 35, on October 10 of that terrible year. Germinio Zecchinelli, like so many other Italian stone cutters, had moved to Barre to quarry granite, to carve the nation’s gravestones (and often each others’, as it turned out).

“The Spanish Flu is often referred to as the ‘forgotten flu,'” Zecchinelli told correspondent Martha Teichner. “And if we had anything to do with it, it wasn’t gonna be forgotten, Germinio and all the others. We wanted to do something to memorialize him and the 50 million others worldwide that died.”

Because, to his astonishment, there was no substantial monument – anywhere – in spite of the staggering number of dead. The forgotten pandemic, indeed.

So, in 2018, a century after the fact, Zecchinelli commissioned this one. “It is unbelievable that nothing else had been done,” he said.”

Brian Zecchinelli, with correspondent Martha Teichner, at the memorial for those who died in the 1918 influenza pandemic, at Hope Cemetery in Barre, Vt. 

CBS News

Six-hundred-seventy-five thousand Americans died in that pandemic. We’re at nearly a million and counting dead from COVID. 

Has history taught us anything?

Tulane University scholar John Barry, who wrote the definitive history of the 1918 flu, “The Great Influenza,” said, “This time around it confirmed the lesson from 1918: you tell the truth.

“You heard things like – this is all about the 1918 virus – ‘This is ordinary influenza by another name,’ which of course, it wasn’t. It’s crystal clear that Trump himself knowingly said things that weren’t true” (such as his February 27, 2020 statement: “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear”).



And what did confusion over the constantly-evolving science do to trust and compliance? (Dr. Anthony Fauci’s March 8, 2020 statement, “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” vs. Fauci’s Oct. 29, 2020 support for community COVID protocols, “the flagship of which is wearing a mask.”)

“You know, trust, truth, they’re all interconnected,” Barry said.

Teichner asked, “Was the result the same then and now?”

“Well, clearly people who might otherwise have been alive, died in 1918,” he replied. “And clearly this time around, people didn’t believe the truth when they were told the truth. The misinformation, the active attacks on vaccines, there’s no question it’s killed people.”

Martha Lincoln, a medical anthropologist at San Francisco State University, sees 1918 amnesia happening again. “We’re already forgetting, even before the pandemic is over. We’re already forgetting the pandemic. I foresee, at best, a long struggle about whether we will remember, really, at all, and if we remember, what that memory will be.”

For example, our entertainment, Lincoln said, is like some parallel universe where COVID is invisible, or long gone.

Not everyone is choosing to forget. In Barre, Vt, the self-proclaimed granite center of the world, the monument business is booming. “We’re up 25-30% depending on product lines; I think all domestic manufacturers are up,” said Rob Boulanger, who manages the huge Rock of Ages plant. “People are pre-buying, so people are looking at their mortality, right? And wanting to take care of those final arrangements before something happens.”

Teichner asked, “Has COVID influenced that?”

“Oh, absolutely.”

The longing to remember – and be remembered – a catalyst.

“I think that if we don’t manage to properly memorialize those that have been lost in this pandemic, it says that people like my dad, his life, didn’t matter,” said Kristin Urquiza. She never got to say goodbye to her father, Mark Urquiza, who died on June 30, 2020, isolated, on a ventilator, in an Arizona hospital. It was pre-vaccine. Cases were rising, but Arizona had opened back up.

“Sure, maybe he should have said no to coming together with his friends to celebrate the ‘end’ of the pandemic,” Urquiza said. “He was given false information upon which he made choices, and that cost him his life.”

Urquiza founded a non-profit, Marked by COVID, advocating for permanent memorials and a CVOD Memorial Day. In Congress there’s been limited support. She said, “Our elected officials would much rather move on, and I’m here to say we’re not going to let you.”

Barry said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t really many memorials.”

“But a million dead? Are they invisible?” Teichner asked.

“Well, which party is gonna take credit for that, you know?” he laughed. “There’s been an effort to create a COVID commission, like the 9/11 commission, which, unfortunately, nobody seems eager to accept.”

For Barry, the 1918 flu should be justification enough – proof of the cost in human lives of forgetting.

“There will be another pandemic,” he said. “If we allow the lessons that could be learned from this not to be learned, then we are really fools.”

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Story produced by Dustin Stephens. Editor: Mike Levine. 

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Quebec health officials confirm 25 monkeypox cases now in province – Global News



Quebec public health officials are reporting a total of 25 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the province as of Thursday.

Dr. Luc Boileau, interim public health director in the province, described it as a “serious outbreak” of the virus. Officials are investigating several more suspected cases.

“We had about 20 to 30 suspected cases under investigation so far,” Boileau said.

The province will also begin administering the Imvamune vaccine to close contacts of confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox as soon as Friday. A single dose will be provided within four days of exposure to the virus.

Quebec’s Health Ministry said in a statement that a second dose of the vaccine could be administered, but only if the risk of exposure is “still present 28 days later” and “only following a decision by public health authorities.”

READ MORE: Mass vaccinations for monkeypox not needed, WHO official says

Boileau said the majority of confirmed cases in the province are tied mostly to men who have had sexual relations with other men. There has been one case in a person under 18.

Last week, Quebec recorded the first cases of the virus in the country. The first suspected cases were reported on May 12 in Montreal.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that comes from the same family of viruses that causes smallpox, which the World Health Organization declared eradicated around the globe in 1980.

The virus spreads through prolonged closed contact. It can cause fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, swollen lymph nodes and lesions.

— with files from Global News’ Dan Spector and the Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Quebec to start monkeypox vaccination of contacts as officials confirm 25 cases



MONTREAL — Quebec’s interim public health director says the province could start vaccinating people against monkeypox as soon as Friday.

Dr. Luc Boileau says there are now 25 confirmed cases of the disease in the province and about 30 suspected cases are under investigation.

He says the province has received supplies of smallpox vaccine from the federal government, and it will be administered to people who have been in close contact with confirmed cases of the disease.

Dr. Caroline Quach, the chair of Quebec’s immunization committee, says the vaccine has been shown to prevent monkeypox in animal studies if it is administered within four days of an exposure and can reduce severity if it is administered up to 14 days after an exposure.

She says the disease is transmitted only through prolonged close contact.

Boileau says the majority of cases are in adult men who have been in sexual contact with people who have the disease, and there has been one case in a person under 18.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.


The Canadian Press

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Monkeypox Warnings Ignored; Dominant COVID Strain Emerges; Better Paxlovid Access – Medpage Today



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Warning signs of the current monkeypox outbreak may have been ignored. (STAT)

The CDC issued a monkeypox travel alert encouraging “enhanced precautions” after cases were reported in North America, Europe, and Australia.

Roche announced it has developed three PCR test kits to detect the monkeypox virus.

The U.S. has a new dominant COVID-19 strain — BA.2.12.1 — a highly contagious sublineage of the BA.2 omicron subvariant that now accounts for 57.9% of all cases, according to CDC estimates.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, as well as Lt. Gov.Denny Heck, both tested positive for COVID-19, as did U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). (Seattle Times, The Hill)

As of Thursday at 8:00 a.m. EDT, the unofficial U.S. COVID toll was 83,697,199 cases and 1,004,558 deaths, increases of 218,146 and 913, respectively, compared with this time Wednesday morning.

The Biden Administration, projecting COVID infections will continue to spread during the summer travel season announced additional steps to make nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid) more accessible. (ABC News)

The White House also reported the launch of the first federally-supported test-to-treat COVID site.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other senior leaders of the government are to blame for booze-filled parties that violated the country’s COVID-19 lockdown rules, according to an investigative report. (NPR)

A mouse study suggested that maraviroc (Selzentry), a FDA-approved drug used to treat HIV, may be able to reverse middle-aged memory loss. (Nature)

The University of California system will be paying nearly $700 million to women who said they were sexually abused by a UCLA gynecologist over the course of several decades. (AP)

The parents of a 4-year-old girl spoke out about her mysterious case of pediatric hepatitis that required a liver transplant, one of 180 similar cases under investigation in the U.S. (Today)

Teva Pharmaceuticals has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of one lot of anagrelide capsules, which are used to treat thrombocythemia secondary to myeloproliferative neoplasms, due to dissolution test failure during routine stability testing.

Servier announced the FDA approved ivosidenib (Tibsovo) in combination with azacitidine for certain patients with newly diagnosed IDH1-mutated acute myeloid leukemia.

A report from the American Medical Association shows that payers are not following the prior authorization reforms agreed to in 2018. (Fierce Healthcare)

The mass shooting in Buffalo earlier this month is a reminder that millions of Americans don’t have easy access to grocery stores. (NPR)

COVID-era misinformation is leading a wave of parents to reject ordinary childhood immunizations. (New York Times)

The FDA issued guidance spelling out rules for states that want to import certain prescription drugs from Canada.

  • Mike Bassett is a staff writer focusing on oncology and hematology. He is based in Massachusetts.

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