As America came to grips with the extent of these social distancing measures, it’s natural to reach for historical comparisons. And those examples can offer the comfort that the U.S. has made it through dark times before. But we will be facing a new and different set of challenges this time.
We’re used to seeing terrible events befall a city, or a region — not the whole country all at once, let alone the whole world.
When that happens, we usually send supplies, material support and aid to the affected area — but there will be few such resources to spare during this outbreak.
Unlike a terrorist attack, this won’t strike in just one place. Unlike a hurricane, there’s no high ground to evacuate to.
It may be more instructive to go all the way back to World War II, which saw the strict rationing of consumer goods, full-scale mobilization of civilian industry, even “dimouts” of New York’s skyline.