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Editorial: What they didn’t have

The past year, experiencing a pandemic, has brought ample comparisons to the last great pandemic, the 1918 influenza.

The Centers for Disease Control said, “It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus.” Worldwide deaths from the 1918 pandemic were estimated at 50 million, with 675,000 in the United States.

Terrible numbers indeed, worse than those we have witnessed to date, especially when considered as a proportion of the population then.

But comparisons of numbers (which is worse?) fail to account for the tools that we have now to combat the virus, or, put another way, the tools that our ancestors did not have.

Let’s take a look at what they lacked, from the focal point of our location on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula.

They did not have electricity. Some people had “power plants” such as Delco generators, but most fed their woodstoves in winter and fanned themselves in summer. The earliest installa...

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