Outbreak 1793

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COVID-19 — a coronavirus disease — is spreading around the world, putting people and governments on high alert. How will we respond to this crisis in the U.S.? Are we prepared? Can we contain the spread and treat those who are sick?

As we grapple with these questions, this special edition of the Pulse, Outbreak 1793, takes a look back to another time when this nation battled a major infectious disease epidemic.

It happened in 1793 in Philadelphia, which was the nation’s capital at the time. In the sweltering heat of summer Yellow Fever began to spread, claiming lives at a rapid pace. Those who could flee left the city. Those who remained were panicked. Who or what was to blame? And who would fall victim next?

Hosts Maiken Scott and public health historian Michael Yudell visit different parts of historic Philadelphia that played an important role during this Yellow Fever epidemic. We’ll meet the people who stayed to fight the illness and learn about the important public health changes that happened as a result of this crisis. This outbreak marked the beginning of public health in America, and led to the kinds of policies and changes that still protect populations today.

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