Oregon State Professor & 1918 Flu Pandemic Expert Available for Comment on Omicron Parallels


With COVID-19 cases currently spiking to record highs thanks to the omicron variant, Oregon State University Associate Professor Christopher McKnight Nichols is drawing lessons from the influenza surges in the winter of 1918-19.

In an op-ed published in the Washington Post on Monday, Nichols pointed to the disparate outcomes experienced in 1918-19 by cities where business lobbyists and public resistance convinced public officials to drop masking and closures, compared with cities that heeded more cautious public health mitigation measures.

“The takeaway: Fatigue and removing mitigation methods made things worse,” he wrote. “Public officials needed to safeguard the public good, even if that meant unpopular moves.”

Nichols can speak to:

  • Parallels between current omicron surge and the flu pandemic surge in winter 1918
  • The historical dimensions of globalization, isolationism and internationalism as they undergird the U.S.’s role in the world community today
  • The history of national and state strategies/policies addressing the Influenza Epidemic of 1918-19 in comparison to the current pandemic

Nichols is an associate professor of history in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts. He is the director of the OSU Center for the Humanities and recently co-authored a book, Rethinking American Grand Strategy, which includes discussion of the importance of public health-related grand strategy.



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