Will Americans Actually Comply With a Long-Term Lockdown?Historians in the News
tags: public health, quarantine, coronavirus
Americans have heard it again and again. If people implement social distancing and responsibly self-quarantine, they may be able to save lives and curb the surge of coronavirus infections that could catastrophically overwhelm the country’s public health system.
But one thing remains unclear: Will they do it?
Well, they have before.
“One parallel is the 1918 influenza pandemic, but it took place during a different time, different media environment, and during a war,” said Scott Knowles, author of The Disaster Experts: Mastering Risk in Modern America and a history professor at Drexel University who focuses on disaster. “It took them a while to get to where we are today, with full-city shutdowns, though many cities did get there.”
Though there are apt historical parallels to the current coronavirus pandemic, Knowles said the response in the U.S.—where both the president and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have advised the entire country against participating in large gatherings—is essentially unprecedented.
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