How does this compare to the Hong Kong flu? Nathaniel Moir, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, said there were few precautions taken during the H3N2 pandemic other than washing hands and staying home when sick.
“It was like the pandemic hadn’t even happened if you look for it in history books,” he said. “I am still shocked at how differently people addressed — or maybe even ignored it — in 1968 compared to 2020.”
The virus rarely made front-page news. A 1968 story in the Associated Press warned that deaths caused by the Hong Kong flu “more than doubled across the nation in the third week of December.” But the story was buried on page 24. The New York Post didn’t publish any stories about the pandemic in 1968, and in 1969, coverage was mostly minor, like reports of newly married couples delaying honeymoons because of the virus and the Yonkers police force calling in sick with the Hong Kong flu during wage negotiations.
A vaccine was soon developed — in August 1969, not long after Woodstock — but the news of a cure didn’t get much media attention either.