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1918 Spanish flu vs. COVID-19: 'They both crept up on us'

Posted at 10:25 PM, Apr 27, 2020

TULSA, Okla. — The COVID-19 pandemic has similarities to another pandemic from a hundred years ago -- the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak. Almost 700,000 people in the U.S. died from it.

The Spanish flu peaked in October of 1918. In that month, Tulsa had 15 flu deaths.

Tulsans were also social-distancing and making masks.

Then, nurses were mostly Red Cross volunteers working 18 hour shifts, “just like they are now,” said Sarah Griswold, the assistant history professor for OSU-Tulsa. “My husband’s a healthcare worker. So, I’ve been personally affected by it. It was amazing to see how, back then, the community and healthcare professionals really saved the day the way they are now.”

Professor Griswold recently taught her students about the Spanish flu because of the correlation to what is happening today.

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