At times it seemed as though the recent COVID-19 pandemic would last forever. It didn't, but for many, it lasted far too long.

Most emergency declarations posted worldwide by governments at all levels have expired, and many folks have become accustomed to a "new normal." For some, that means Zoom meetings, working from home, career changes or perhaps no job at all.

We know the pandemic had an impact on our kids, as test scores are down and anxiety levels are up. Drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness are problems faced by people of all ages in this post-pandemic environment.
City of New Bedford

As of May 17, 2023, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) reported 556 COVID-19 deaths (confirmed and probable) in New Bedford since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Holly Huntoon, the Interim Public Information Officer for the City of New Bedford, said that "the state DPH continues to track and report new cases, and the New Bedford Health Department continues to monitor local cases and indicators, in collaboration with local, regional and statewide health partners."

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Credit medical advancements and perhaps hindsight – which is, as they say, 20/20 – but New Bedford suffered far fewer deaths due to COVID-19 than during the 1918 influenza pandemic, often referred to as the "Spanish Flu."
Spinner Publications

In 2006, 14 years before we ever heard of COVID-19, Jennette Barnes wrote a piece for about the 1918 pandemic. Barnes reported New Bedford logged 774 flu deaths in 1918 and that "another 687 deaths were suspected flu deaths," according to a review of city health records from 1918.

Barnes reported that on September 26, 1918, "Mayor Charles S. Ashley ordered schools and theaters closed indefinitely."

"Mill workers walked off the job in fear for their lives," she wrote.

Mayor Jon Mitchell also closed schools, theaters, churches, and most other public gathering places in 2020. Mitchell ordered many city employees vaccinated against COVID, an option not available to Mayor Ashley in 1918.
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Estimates peg deaths worldwide from the 1918 pandemic at between 20 million and 40 million people. Barnes reported the death toll could actually have been as high as 100 million.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were roughly seven million COVID-19 deaths worldwide as of May 2023.

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