Researchers then looked at the deaths in October and November 1918, the culmination of the city’s flu outbreak. They found detailed mortality statistics collected by the Census Bureau, which at the time was a relatively new agency, and archived by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr Faust identified 31,589 deaths among the city’s 5.5 million residents, for an incident rate of 287.17 deaths per 100,000 person-months. That number was almost three times higher than the city’s death rate in the past three years. Overall, the death toll in the city last spring was about 70 percent of what was seen in 1918.
When the epidemic struck in 1918, the increase in deaths was not as shocking to the city as it was in 2020. At the time, the increase in deaths was less than three times higher than last year, the researchers noted. while in 2020 the increase was more than four times higher than the 2019 figure.
Simply put, life was more dangerous a hundred years ago.
“It was a less healthy and less secure world,” said Dr. Faust. In a sense, he added, “we are worse off today than we were in 1918,” because we started from a much safer, more technologically advanced country. The impact of an epidemic had to be extremely low today, not slightly lower.
Indeed, people today are conditioned by the “industrial medical complex” to think that all diseases can be conquered, said Nancy Tomes, an American health care historian at Stony Brook University.
That may be why many Americans, especially those who believe the pandemic is overloaded, are so angry to discover that a virus has prolonged their lives, she added.