Today’s COVID-19 pandemic offers many similarities with previous pandemics hitting our country. In particular, the smallpox epidemics during the 1700s threatened the lives of multitudes and created panic and fear in the society, similar to the situation caused by the coronavirus. Remedies that were instituted, especially inoculations, were met with opposition and even violence when first introduced. The newspapers were filled with headlines reflecting the disputes. There was a “six feet rule” during the smallpox epidemics, although it had a different meaning than today. Politicians and other leaders of the society were engaged in the war against the infection. Boston became involved in the fight against the smallpox by Dr. Zabdiel Boylston’s and Rev. Cotton Mather’s introduction of inoculations. When George Washington realized the benefits of the procedure and ordered mass inoculations of the Continental Army, it became an important factor in winning not only the fight against smallpox but the Revolutionary War as well. Looking back at history, realizing that we have survived previous outbreaks of devastating diseases, can provide hope during the current pandemic.

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