RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV)- The 1918 Flu is also known as the Spanish Flu, because Spain was the country that was not in war, and was free to report about the disease during World War I, which then created an impression that the influenza was only affecting Spain or started in Spain. World War I ended in November 1918. By December 1918, there were nearly 2000 deaths in South Dakota caused by this flu. Churches, theaters, schools were shut down. There were "sanitation laws" in Rapid City. People would get arrested for spitting on the sidewalks. Funerals were required to be conducted in open air. People are told to keep at least 2-3 feet away from each other when talking. Similar to the social distancing idea we have now. Today, health care providers also hope that keeping a safe distance will help curb the spread. Dr. Nancy Babbitt says, COVID-19 is very new to all of us, but there's no doubt it is very serious. "I think we're beyond just coughing to your elbow, I think we're at a point where we need to stay away from people. We know this is spreading through communities, it's on the verge of continuing the spread closer to our area, we have not tested enough people to have any idea, how prevalent it is."
Even though it's more than a hundred years since the Spanish flu gripped the world, there are still several questions remained unanswered. And there is also so much that we don't know about the current pandemic. "This is unfolding and anyone knows how to look at graphs can see that our trajectory ...has not slowed down. We are doubling about every two to three days in cases in united states. And that is a fact," Dr. Babbitt emphasizes how we need more updated data by having the ability to conduct more testing.
Comparing to the past, we have better knowledge in hygiene. Experts say, at this point, we should do our part and keep our social distance.