Written by Lucero Benitez, COSS Communications Specialist

Ethan Kytle’s weekly writings show parallels between current and past pandemics

Millions of Americans scrambled to adjust to the extraordinary changes to society spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March. Schools and colleges suspended classes. Restaurants, bars and theaters closed. Major public events were canceled and people began to work and “attend” school from home, with the use of technology.

While this situation is unlike any other experience for most Americans, history will tell us it’s not completely unprecedented.

A little over a century ago, in 1918-19, a deadlier respiratory virus killed 50 to 100 million people worldwide. That influenza pandemic sparked similar responses that began in the U.S. a few weeks ago — schools and saloons were shut and public performances outlawed.

kytleTo provide some historical context for the current state of affairs, Dr. Ethan Kytle, professor and chair for the Fresno State History Department, is cataloging how Fresno responded to the 1918-19 “Spanish” flu pandemic.

“As a historian I tend to process contemporary events — especially extraordinary developments like the coronavirus pandemic — through the past,” Kytle said. “When Fresno State first announced that it was moving to remote instruction several weeks ago, I decided to look into what had happened here in Fresno during the last health crisis of this magnitude: the 1918-19 influenza pandemic.”

Kytle began writing his findings in a series of dispatches, published by Tropics of Meta. Read the full story on Fresno State News

In the Media:

KSEE 24/ CBS 47 Fresno State history professor finds local parallels in 1918 pandemic

Fresno Bee Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 hit Fresno hard, but social distancing proved valuable

ABC 30 Fresno State professor keeping close eye on possible 2nd COVID-19 wave