Thinking Historically about Covid-19

A Project for HIST 1000 in 2020-2021
Thinking Historically about Covid-19
Thinking Historically about Covid-19

Thinking Historically about Covid-19

A Project for HIST 1000 in 2020-2021


This is the course website for HIST 1000: “Thinking Historically about Covid” in the 2020-2021 academic year at the University of New Haven. The purpose of this course was to help students think historically. When historians study the past, they are invariably affected by their current moment. In turn, the study of the past enables us to see the present in a new light. To prove this to yourself, look again at the image above of an outdoor barber shop in California during the 1918 influenza pandemic. How is your reaction to that image different today than it would have been in 2019? How does looking at that image affect how you think about our own Covid-19 pandemic?

To learn to think in this way, undergraduate students in HIST 1000 have studied the current Covid-19 pandemic in light of research into past pandemics of plague, cholera, influenza, and AIDS. They have shared the fruits of their new historical awareness in the articles section of this website. To access the articles simply scroll down, click the ‘Articles’ link in the navigation menu above, or select one of the following categories if you want to find articles on a particular topic:

The Human Experience

Science and Disease

The Political Economy

The Influence of Pandemics on Culture

Government impact on Pandemics. Do they always help?

During the Reagan administration, there was an unpublished press conference that was filmed in 1982 with Larry Speakes, White House Press Secretary discussing the mounting cases of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) worldwide. During the press conference, there was little acknowledgment from the press secretary that the AIDS epidemic had become a serious issue. The first time it was mentioned Speakes responded by saying “A-I-D-S? I haven’t got anything on it.” (Gibson). The reporter Kinsolving responds saying “It’s known as ‘gay plague” (Gibson). Which at this point the entire press pool dissolves into laughter and it is made clear that the administration does not take the epidemic as a serious matter.

Humans, Animals, and the Land – How Do They Influence Public Health?

“The conversion of nature for production is winning the race, and conservationists are trying to beat the clock. It’s becoming one giant race to get to first place.”  – Kristine Tompkins, Cofounder and President, Tompkins Conservation Introduction While the Covid-19 Pandemic continues, it is important to take a step back …

Is COVID-19 Here to Stay?

In Short, COVID-19 is an extremely transmissible and infectious disease caused by the SARS-COV-2 virus. In most cases, contracting the coronavirus will result in “mild to moderate respiratory illness,” (WHO). However, there is a greater risk of serious illness among certain groups of high-risk people like those in the elderly, diabetic, and immunocompromised communities, and it is beginning to look like COVID-19 will become a routinely mutating disease like influenza.

Media Denial of Pandemic Severity in Attempts to Salvage the Economy

The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market is starting to look very good to me! Tweeted by Former U.S. President, Donald Trump, February 24, …

Evolution of Government Responses to Pandemic: From the Spanish Flu to COVID-19

“It’s pretty clear that what (the rise in cases) we’re seeing is directly tied to the end of the stay-at-home order” (Stobbe). Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, individual states have set public health policy for themselves, but it has not always been that way. …

How Diseases Evolve

COVID-19 where did it come from and where is it going? To start let’s discuss the history of the virus. SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 is a single-stranded positive-sense RNA virus that is part of a zoonotic Coronaviridae family and is most genetically similar to SARS-CoV-1 (Bahchechi, M.). This means that the virus currently wreaking havoc on the world evolved from a similar variant of a similar disease in a closely related set of diseases. This set of diseases are considered zoonotic which means that they originate first in animals before entering the human population. The genetic material of this virus is RNA, typical cells use DNA as their genetic material. Viruses are a type of pathogen that require hosts to survive and replicate, therefore they are not considered to be alive. But if viruses are not alive, how can they evolve?

What Are One’s Moral Obligations During a Pandemic?

“…masks became a scapegoat, a symbol of government overreach, inspiring protests, petitions and defiant bare-face gatherings. All the while, thousands of Americans were dying in a deadly pandemic” (Hauser, 1).  This quote, although written seemingly in reference to the Covid-19 pandemic, is actually taken from an article about the Spanish Influenza of 1918. Mask …

Are our pets and other animals actually at risk for Covid-19 or is this just social media influence?

At the beginning of the pandemic, one of the things we as a society began to worry about were its effects on our pets and being able to spread this disease from human to animal and vice versa. Could just touching the pet of an infected individual infect us or …