Joe Biden sworn in to office during global health crisis

Woodrow Wilson bust at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library in Staunton.
Woodrow Wilson bust at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library in Staunton.(WHSV)
Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 6:39 PM EST
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - President Joe Biden was sworn into office Wednesday beginning his first term amid a global health crisis. But presidents inheriting crises is not anything we have not seen in the past.

The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 happened during President Woodrow Wilson’s second term in office.

The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library said while there were many similarities within both pandemics, like wearing masks and public places closing to keep large groups from gathering, the federal response was very different.

“Nowadays we’ve come to expect, especially early in the pandemic, sometimes daily press conferences from the White House, from the president and from others in the federal government telling us how we can combat it, what best we can do to protect ourselves and our friends and family,” Andrew Phillips, museum curator, said.

But during the Spanish Flu pandemic, Wilson offered no statements about what people should be doing.

“For the most part, the American public looked to city and sometimes state governments because they were the ones, by and large, who employed the public health officials who would be able to help them in a crisis like this,” Phillips said.

President Warren Harding took office following the Spanish Flu pandemic and had to deal with the aftermath of World War I.

Phillips said Harding took a very different approach in responding to crises, and we could see the same from the Biden administration.

“This is a different party with very different outlooks on the world, and they’re going to take very different approaches. It’s going to be a lot of changes coming, I think in the next few years,” Phillips said.

With the Spanish Flu, the pandemic ended after so many people got infected and developed an immunity to the virus. Phillips said he is interested to see how the end of this pandemic plays out now that we have vaccines to fight COVID-19.

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