VT professor compares COVID-19 to Spanish Influenza, talks about importance in documentation

Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 6:43 PM EDT
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Whether you take pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, it's important to write it out.

What we're all going through right now with COVID-19 is history in the making.

"What happens in the next two weeks in the United States, the next few months around the world, I think will determine how it's taught and discussed as history," said Tom Ewing, a history professor at Virginia Tech.

Ewing's research focuses on the Spanish Influenza of 1918. During that pandemic, nearly one-third of the world's population was infected.

"You're starting to see the first-hand accounts of emergency room doctors, of nurses, people who have been tested or are waiting to be tested or diagnosed, and those are snapshots of what those people are going through right at the moment and the accumulation of those tells a very different history of what we're living through," said Ewing.

Comparing this virus to the Spanish Influenza, Ewing said the term "social distancing" hadn't been coined, but the advice from medical professionals was similar. But that's just from newspaper articles.

We now have access to technology to document so much more.

So whether its a tweet, a journal entry or even a video recording, it's pertinent to just record.

"I think there are those moments where it goes from being something in the news to suddenly something real," said Ewing.

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