Lifting restrictions on big gatherings and a lesson from Philadelphia

Contributed by Glen Davis

Since the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic, a small, vociferously powerful cohort, has been calling for its health impacts to be put as secondary behind the requirements of business.

We all know the economic mantra of capitalism, accumulate, accumulate.

These individuals, we may best describe as being ‘Pro Death’, have wanted an end to restrictions, lock downs, from early on. Leading this charge on the USA has been the Wall Street Journal. Also various Murdoch rags. Their position is always worded as being ‘balanced’, with public health and the economy being put on an ’equal ‘footing

We’re now hearing how from the Federal Treasurer the Australian economy Is losing $5 billion a week. This sounds like code to ease the restrictions, let’s return to ‘business as usual’. The goal is for business to get their way in their greed taking precedence over our health.

In Australia, we’ve done very well dealing with Covid 19 There are several reasons, including social distancing, and the cancellation of events with big gatherings, being pivotal.

Here, I’ll touch briefly on a big gathering during the last global pandemic a century ago, noting its destructive impact.

During the Spanish Flu, Philadelphia (USA) threw a parade on 28 September 1918, to celebrate the war effort. There were concerns abo the spread of the disease through the town. Its shipyards were experiencing a growing outbreak of the flu.

Debate continues re the role of Philadelphia’s director of public health, Dr Wilmer Krusen, as to why he didn’t cancel the event.

The number of those attending this parade was estimated to be around 200,000. Many of the attendees became infected. Hospitals were rapidly overwhelmed by the sick. Emergency hospitals were quickly opened, while volunteers were called for, to assist the overburdened nursing staff.

Philadelphia was not the only case.

Video from KING 5

Apparently, the city morgue was only meant to hold 36 bodies. But hundreds of bodies arrived within days, meaning other options were sought.

The whole city was quarantined. The death toll passed 12,000 in no time. Over the next six months it passed 16,000.

At some point during this current global pandemic the restrictions will get lifted in the US. In Australia it looks like it’s already beginning. What sort of world we’re entering is unknown.

What we do know is that whatever actions taken, they need to be guided by science and medicine, not by businesses wanting to bolster their ‘bottom line’.

The world is facing a serious health crisis. If the current economic system is not able to cope with it, then it’s time to work on a new economic system.

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