Secondary Symptoms #3

Pandemic Amnesia

Your browser doesn't support HTML5 audio. Here is a link to download the audio instead.

Pandemic Amnesia

Last time we opened up too fast, we paid dearly. There were celebratory parades when Americans thought the 1918 Spanish Flu was over and done with. Unfortunately, the second wave was even worse.

So this week on Secondary Symptoms, the secondary symptom we’re looking at... it’s a symptom you might call pandemic amnesia. We’re asking: what have we learned from our history of pandemics, and what have we forgotten?

We speak to Cindy Ermus, a historian of disasters and pandemics, about past disasters and what we should learn from them. It’s a wide ranging conversation about the politics of pandemic memory--about what we choose to remember, and what we choose to forget.

Next, Michael Willrich tells us about his book “Pox: An American History,” which chronicles the long-forgotten American smallpox outbreaks at the turn of the last century. It’s a story of extraordinary state overreach -- of vaccination by gunpoint, of forced separation, and of police repression -- in the name of fighting a deadly disease. Pox asks us: how do we balance individual freedom with public health?

Guests (in order of appearance):


Hosted by Gordon Katic and produced by Jay Cockburn, with music from Mike Barber. David Tobiasz is our production manager, and Polly Leger helped out with web and marketing.