Journalists Uncover Lessons From the 1918 Pandemic Useful in Covering COVID-19

As readers of The Charlotte Observer found out on a recent Sunday, the common story of how the city escaped major illness and death in the pandemic of 1918 had one big problem: It just wasn’t true.

In an in-depth piece on April 12 by reporter Mark Washburn, the Observer revealed the truth behind the long-unquestioned myth that the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918 left Charlotte relatively unscathed while other cities like Philadelphia were devastated. In fact, new data discovered by the Observer shows that, by the time the pandemic ended the next year, nearly 800 had died, while city officials had reported only half as many.

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