Public Opposition to Public Health Recommendations Is Not New

“Wisecrack” is an educational channel on YouTube that looks at current, popular culture issues through a lens of history, philosophy and science, with a little humor thrown in. In the episode below, they analyze the causes of anti-mask behavior and put that behavior in historical context to two other instances of public health emergencies: the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918-19 and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Both of those emergencies required public education and enforcement of public health laws. Guess which one — education or enforcement — seems to work better?

Presidents and Pathogens

With news today that President Trump has tested positive for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, I’ve received a number of messages and phone calls asking for a historical perspective on what is going on. President Trump is not the first Chief Executive who has had to deal with a disease. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson contracted the disease in March and was hospitalized in intensive care because his symptoms were serious. President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil also contracted COVID-19, but his condition was not reported as serious at any time, and — like Mr. Johnson — continued in power throughout the course of his illness.