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Old 03-26-2020, 02:41 PM
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How would we cope if this pandemic had hit in this way 30 years ago (1990)?


Without the internet (as we know it today), wireless technology, mobile computing, etc. how would we have coped with the pandemic?

What we would not have:

Working from home
Online ordering and delivery
Streaming entertainment
Video conferencing from almost anywhere
Online socializing
Teledoc


What else?
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Old 03-26-2020, 02:47 PM
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We would have prepared food delivery at least. Though that varies by area. There were more dairies delivering still in 1990 and more diaper services. But nothing compared to 1960.

We would have watched more crap on cable or over the air and recorded extra stuff to our VCRs.

Work from Home would have been very uncommon. School from home would be largely impossible.
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Old 03-26-2020, 02:49 PM
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Get the "stay home" message out as much as possible over traditional media, TV, radio and papers. But otherwise, working from home would be impossible for most people and there was less automation, so factories for example had a lot more employees working there every day than they do now, and a lot closer together. On the other hand, it does seem in hindsight that both sides of the political aisle had a little more trust in the government back then, so maybe the government could have handled it in a more competent way, paying people to stay home and closing unnecessary businesses. But ultimately, I think the outcome would have been a lot worse back then than it will be in 2020.

But when it comes to quantitative numbers, both epidemiological and economic, I don't think we'll get the whole picture for months or years. So I'm not sure we'll understand just how bad it currently is until it's over or nearly so, and we won't know the economic costs for years. So it's hard to be more precise than "it would have been worse in 1990".
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Old 03-26-2020, 02:53 PM
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Work from Home would have been very uncommon. School from home would be largely impossible.
I don't know, I saw a documentary video recently from the 1930s with a sick kid who listened to his teacher's lectures over the radio and mailed his homework in. I don't know how quickly schools in 1990 could have set that sort of system up, but I'm sure it was possible if they had sufficient motivation.
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Old 03-26-2020, 03:07 PM
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But ultimately, I think the outcome would have been a lot worse back then than it will be in 2020.
I suspect that the main thing would be that all the early warning stuff that we saw in China would likely have been much less effective/available. I mean, it probably would have been identified when it got into the rest of the world and people started getting sick and dying in large numbers, at which point the cat would already be out of the bag.

OTOH, 1990 China wasn't as integrated into the world as it is today, so it's possible that we'd find something out about it as it mushroomed in China, and isolate the whole country, and aggressively contact trace/run down suspected cases in the West, making it a Chinese tragedy but not much else.

I don't think a shelter-in-place order would have been feasible in 1990; there was little delivered in a lot of places back then- pizza and maybe a few other sorts of food was about it. Online shopping was non-existent, and TV options were less convenient.
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Old 03-26-2020, 03:19 PM
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I.C.U would not be as effective, more critical cases would die and those who are ill would take up care places for longer.
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Old 03-26-2020, 04:02 PM
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We wouldn't have the calm, soothing presence of social media.
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Old 03-26-2020, 04:12 PM
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I don't know, I saw a documentary video recently from the 1930s with a sick kid who listened to his teacher's lectures over the radio and mailed his homework in. I don't know how quickly schools in 1990 could have set that sort of system up, but I'm sure it was possible if they had sufficient motivation.
There was "School of the Air" which was broadcasted on radio, and later on television, but it wouldn't have been a complete curriculum. It was for things like art and music, and designed for the one-room schoolhouse and other schools that didn't have these teachers on staff. (I just Googled it, and there's a program that still exists in the Australian outback.)

Go back 35 years, and we have the early days of the AIDS epidemic. While the disease never spread this rapidly, it did have a near-100% fatality rate at the time, and we just didn't know at first what caused it, or if it might mutate into something that was casually transmissible.
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Old 03-26-2020, 05:02 PM
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Schools at that time would have sent home packets with the kids. Which isn't actually all that different from what they're doing now.
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Old 03-26-2020, 05:27 PM
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I was 17 for most of 1990, I turned 18 in December of that year. It's possible, and in fact likely I would have wanted to be like some of the spring breakers you see now. Not licking produce or coughing in peoples faces, but just not caring in general. But I also think that things would have been taken much more seriously back then.

There would have been a unified message coming though radio and TV and the older generation, aka people that were around my age now would have done what they were advised to do. They would also have exerted extreme social pressure to make sure us youngsters would do so as well. In the end I would have bowed to that social pressure and just stayed home and done the normal things you would do for the time.

It was a different time back then, I'm not saying it was better, but different for sure.

Last edited by split p&j; 03-26-2020 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 03-26-2020, 05:42 PM
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There was "School of the Air" which was broadcasted on radio, and later on television, but it wouldn't have been a complete curriculum. It was for things like art and music, and designed for the one-room schoolhouse and other schools that didn't have these teachers on staff. (I just Googled it, and there's a program that still exists in the Australian outback.)

Go back 35 years, and we have the early days of the AIDS epidemic. While the disease never spread this rapidly, it did have a near-100% fatality rate at the time, and we just didn't know at first what caused it, or if it might mutate into something that was casually transmissible.
I was really young back then, but I seem to remember that AIDS was seen as a disease that only drug addicts or homosexuals got. I mean no disrespect with that statement, and I may be remembering the attitude from '87 or '88.
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Old 03-27-2020, 04:05 AM
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I was really young back then, but I seem to remember that AIDS was seen as a disease that only drug addicts or homosexuals got. I mean no disrespect with that statement, and I may be remembering the attitude from '87 or '88.
Initially that was the attitude in many quarters: “bunch of perverts, let’em rot”.

That began to change when more and more “normal” people began to be infected, mostly through blood transfusions and the use of blood products (initially, people who had undergone operations, hemophiliacs, etc).

When it is “your” people who start suffering the consequences of a disease or a condition... that is when minds begin to concentrate in earnest and when “you” start taking things seriously.

The moment really important rich people start getting really sick with this is when we will see a change in certain attitudes on the part of some very rich people.
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Old 03-27-2020, 05:30 AM
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We wouldn't have the calm, soothing presence of social media.
Some of us would have. Dial-up networks, including local bulletin boards and (inter)national online services like CompuServe, Delphi, Prodigy, and Quantum Link (the predecessor of AOL) were booming then. Even many local, privately operated BBSes were part of international networks like FidoNet, and some of them even had gateways to "social media" parts of the Internet like USENET. Of course, only about 15% of households had a computer in 1990, and of those not all had a modem, though I bet the self-isolation would have led to a sharp spike in awareness of online services and (mail-order) modem sales. If anything, a 1990 coronavirus pandemic could have greatly hastened the public adoption and growth of the online world.
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Old 03-27-2020, 05:58 AM
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We wouldn't have botched January, February, and most of March. We had a functioning bureaucracy, and while I was hardly GHW Bush's biggest fan, he would have provided competent leadership and management of our response. We would be looking at a much smaller, much more contained epidemic here in the U.S. than the one we've got.
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Old 03-27-2020, 10:13 AM
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We wouldn't have botched January, February, and most of March. We had a functioning bureaucracy, and while I was hardly GHW Bush's biggest fan, he would have provided competent leadership and management of our response. We would be looking at a much smaller, much more contained epidemic here in the U.S. than the one we've got.
This. Say what you will about G.H.W. Bush, but no doubt would he have handled this far better than Trump. At the very least he wouldn't have had a history of engaging in the sort of scorched earth politics that are all but guaranteed to alienate everybody outside one's political base.
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Old 03-27-2020, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by split p&j View Post
I was 17 for most of 1990, I turned 18 in December of that year. It's possible, and in fact likely I would have wanted to be like some of the spring breakers you see now. Not licking produce or coughing in peoples faces, but just not caring in general. But I also think that things would have been taken much more seriously back then.
Gosh, I think it would have been the exact opposite. People would have taken it far LESS seriously, and many more people would have died.
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Old 03-27-2020, 11:04 AM
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In 1992, in Los Angeles, there were a few days like this, during the riots. Everything was closed, and there was a curfew at night. Local TV stations kept people up-to-date, and people called each other a lot.

In a way, people acted more rationally during that short time. Of course there was lots of looting and some violence, but only in some parts of the city, and the looting was clearly people taking advantage of a do-nothing police force. It was obviously reprehensible, but was rational. That was happening in the neighborhoods which had become most resentful of the police, for the most part.

Now, a lot of people who otherwise live in normal circumstances are confusing this situation for a zombie apocalypse. They are acting as though they needed to stockpile a year's supply of food and lock themselves in their house without ever coming out. I would say that the interconnectivity we have now is contributing to this thinking. It has become an echo chamber of stupidity, brought on by the compulsion so many people have to dramatize their perceptions with what they see on fantasy TV.
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Old 03-27-2020, 11:08 AM
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For one I don't think there would be as much panic as now. With social media, we're just bouncing disinformation and panic news from one another.

Also, I don't think the measures would be as drastic as they are currently, and most government would just let the disease pass through the population. Not because they were evil, but I think it's because they'd have fewer ways of tracking people's movements and limiting them to stay in house.

I might be wrong though, since I'm too young to remember the 90's.
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Old 03-27-2020, 11:15 AM
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I don't think we would have had the shutdowns we've seen 30 years ago. At best you'd get a Sweden-like approach.

There was almost no working from home, or even capability of working from home back then. The fact that that has greatly ramped up even before this happened is a very happy coincidence.
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Old 03-27-2020, 01:27 PM
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I agree that G.W. Bush would have handled things much better than Trump has.

I also agree with those who have said that the government (federal and state) would not have tried to shut everything down as it is doing now. They probably would not have considered it possible or necessarily desirable.

The response would have been more about dealing with the consequences of the disease taking out whom it would.
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Old 03-27-2020, 01:36 PM
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Gosh, I think it would have been the exact opposite. People would have taken it far LESS seriously, and many more people would have died.
May I ask why you think that? All of the media sources would have been saying the same thing. TV, radio and newspapers all would have had the same message.

Like I said, I was a senior in high school that year, so I may be remembering the times differently than an adult of the time would.
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Old 03-27-2020, 01:44 PM
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We wouldn't have the calm, soothing presence of social media.
If you imagine this as being said by Billy D. Williams it almost sounds convincing. "Works eeevery time!"

Billy D., where art thee?

Stranger

Last edited by Stranger On A Train; 03-27-2020 at 01:45 PM.
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