Of Plagues and Papers: COVID-19, the Media, and the Construction of American Disease History

In their attempts to make sense of the novel coronavirus, media outlets frequently invoke the past, comparing COVID-19 to the Black Death, the "Great Influenza" of 1918-19, and other historical disease outbreaks. The act of connecting "then" and "now" has produced two countervailing historical narratives: one that emphasizes medical progress over time, and another that highlights America's failure to learn the lessons of past pandemics.

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