What can public officials and public health experts learn from a series of yellow fever epidemics in the 1790s and other historical epidemics? What factor has race played in emergency management and infectious disease in American history? Dr. David Barnes, a professor of public health and the history of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Michael Yudell, Vice Dean and Professor at College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University and former chair of the Department of Community Health and Prevention at Drexel University, both discuss historical analogues for the COVID-19 pandemic in American History. In particular Dr. Barnes and Dr. Yudell discusses Philadelphia’s Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793, its subsequent resurgence, and the similarities to today’s pandemic. Dr. Barnes talks about the contentious politics and practice of quarantine in 1790’s Philadelphia and its parallels into debates over lockdown measures. Dr. Yudell explains the deeper histories that cause harmful effects of disease to map onto social inequalities. Both also discuss the tension between research and activism in advocating for changes in public health policies. For further reading: The Making of a Social Disease: Tuberculosis in Nineteenth-Century France Race Unmasked: Biology and Race in the Twentieth Century The Lazaretto Quarantine Station “South Africa’s War on COVID-19”
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