Apparently, letter-writer Cherie Zaslawsky has a problem with Dr. Scott Morrow’s emergency order requiring the wearing of face coverings to enter stores (“Issue with mask orders,” May 11). She writes, “Covering our faces means further delaying ‘herd immunity’ which is the fastest, and possibly the only way, to end epidemics.”
Eerily, the next day, letter writer Ed Kahl (“Shutdown has served its purpose”) also referenced herd immunity, suggesting that it “may be the only way to defeat the virus if a vaccine isn’t found, as was the case for SARS, HIV and many other viruses.”
To Kahl’s point, herd immunity did end the 1918 pandemic influenza, at a considerable toll – 50 million lives, including 675,000 Americans. I recall reading Belmont Councilman Tom McCune’s guest perspective, “Wisdom from 1918,” May 5, and reviewed it.
Ms. Zaslawsky should be thankful that Morrow only issued a mask order and isn’t following what his predecessor did 102 years earlier.
McCune writes, “In 1918, people were admonished to stay inside, avoid crowds and (yes) wear masks. When a case of flu occurred in a house, the county health officer showed up and nailed a big yellow sign to the front door reading ‘QUARANTINE.’ People were jailed for breaking quarantine.”
I think we could all profit from reviewing history during this public health crisis. I recommend that others read McCune’s perspective on how that earlier pandemic affected his family. Sadly, not even herd immunity prevented the death of his father’s brother in 1923 at age 14.