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One Good Thing - Learning about Yellow Fever

History has a strange way of repeating itself.

This semester, I decided to take early U.S. History with professor Heather Koller teaching the class. Her lectures and the material she gives us has been really interesting, but I’ve mostly been struck by the fact things seem to appear over and over through the course of time.

Many of the same mindsets and dilemmas we find ourselves contending with today are not unlike the ones our ancestors dealt with during the formation of what we now know as the United States. They fought epidemics and other crises, things that we are still grappling with today – the same story, just different characters.

The Yellow Fever epidemic is one topic we discussed last week and it was curious just how many similarities there are between it and the COVID-19 pandemic we are still dealing with today. Although both viruses are very different in a biological sense, the fact remains both are formidable health concerns in their own rights. Both carry a high mortality rate, were easily transmissible and there was great controversy on where they came from and how best to treat them.

Though we know now that it was transmitted by mosquitos and allowed to flourish by providing the host insects with ample places to spread, that was information the colonists didn’t have. Today, we understand the threat of COVID, we realize it has to come from somewhere, but there are many different voices chiming in for the proper treatment and prevention of the virus – everyone has an opinion. Sometimes, even doctors don’t agree. It was like that back then, too.

Making informed decisions is crucial when it comes to matters like these, but I take some solace in knowing the health professionals who have dedicated their research and lives to developing effective strategies for combatting public health problems like COVID-19 are generally in a better place today than in the 1700s when people knew far, far less about the human body.

Sometimes, it gets a little frustrating to hear all the “noise” associated with the pandemic and what everyone’s opinions are on the matter. When they conflict with your own, or feel like they’re inadequate compared to your personal viewpoints, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and allow tempers to flare. Of late, I try to be considerate of others and focus on doing what’s right for me, in my own situation. I try to keep my mask on and stay socially distant when possible, but I know that approach isn’t for everyone.

After having the discussion about Yellow Fever in history class, and being able to draw so many parallels, it proved oddly comforting. There’s something about knowing our ancestors have fielded a very similar situation and managed to come out the other side that helps ease some worries. It didn’t last forever, and COVID won’t either – one day, like the colonists, we will be able to reclaim our “normal,” whatever form it may take.

Standard reporter Nikki Childers can be reached at 473-2191.