LMAS District Health Department: A pandemic Thanksgiving

The health department takes a look back at the 1918 influenza pandemic in comparison to the present one.
Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 3:45 PM EST
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MANISTIQUE, Mich. (WLUC) - The LMAS District Health Department, which serves Luce, Mackinac, Alger and Schoolcraft counties, is encouraging continued caution and cleanliness during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

The health department takes a look back at the 1918 influenza pandemic in comparison to the present one.

Read the entire statement from the health department below.

With Thanksgiving just two days away and COVID-19 cases on the rise, many are weary of the pandemic, masks, and instructions to limit contact with those not in their own household.

Lots of headlines urging people to stay home and not have large gatherings for Thanksgiving. Others asking for more people to assist in making masks for public distribution. Signs on stores that state masks are required. Headlines announcing more than 200,000 dead since March, and a second wave hitting in October, and others announcing vaccine trials.

The headlines referenced here are all from November 1918 during the influenza pandemic that ultimately saw millions dead around the globe by the time it subsided in April 1920, including between 550,000 and 750,000 Americans.

The pandemic started in the spring of 1918, then declined and surged again in the fall and winter. Schools, churches, and businesses were closed. There were even county borders in some parts of Michigan where law enforcement would not allow anyone in or out of the county in order to contain the spread of the virus. So, while many call the 2020 Pandemic unprecedented, it’s really not. It’s certainly new to those of us under the age of 100, but as a nation and a planet, we have faced worse, and we’ve overcome it by working together.

Please take every precaution to protect each other from the virus which causes COVID-19. It is as real as the influenza that tore through the world for two terrible years more than a hundred years ago. It is a virus we are learning more about every day, and the hope of vaccines being available in the coming months should give all of us the strength and courage to continue to do small things that often seem very hard, to protect each other.

But if you really think about it, the things we are all being asked to do are really small. Some say “masks don’t work” and use the rising numbers as evidence of that, but the problem is these small things work best when we all do them. Wear a cloth face covering over your mouth and nose anytime you are in public or with people not from your immediate household. Along with the mask, keep your distance from others – at least six feet. Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Stay home when you don’t feel well. Do these things to protect your family members, neighbors, friends, and even people you don’t know.

On November 12 [2020] we had 614 cases of COVID in Luce, Mackinac, Alger, and Schoolcraft counties. On November 24, that number stands at 797, an increase of about 30% in 12 days.

More than 100 years ago our nation was fighting a world war and a pandemic. They closed things down. They wore masks. They reduced social gatherings. If our ancestors could do it, so can we, but we have to work together. #DoSmallThings #TakeCareOfEachOther

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