With all due respect to Charles Dickens, this is a tale of how two cities handled a health crisis via social distancing, with opposite results.
Back in 1918 when the Spanish flu was plaguing the entire country, Philadelphia and St. Louis had two different approaches to the disease, according to a 2007 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In an effort to boost morale for the war and also to sell bonds, the city of Philadelphia threw a parade that drew 200,000 people, despite warnings that the Spanish flu was spreading among the soldiers who were about to head off to World War I and would be in the parade.
That didn’t turn out to be a good idea.
Days later, hospitals in the area were filled with patients suffering or dying from the Spanish flu.
Weeks later, more than 4,500 people in the Philadelphia area died from the virus.
On the other side of the ledger, things were way different in St. Louis.
After detecting its first cases of the Spanish flu in the community, St. Louis closed buildings such as schools, churches, courtrooms and libraries.