It would be impossible to know precisely what effects mitigation efforts would have had on the spread of the flu.
Davis pointed out that the nation had no organized response, leaving it to states and local governments. Some cities in the West did have mask ordinances, as did Atlanta.
But in shutting down theaters and saloons, the Pennsylvania health commissioner didn't address masks or physical distancing, mentioning only the importance of getting fresh air and exercise.
Davis said the response or lack thereof wasn't surprising since people were apt to view what was happening as a "flu," with which they were familiar, not some exotic plague.
He said the while he finds it "infuriating" when people deny the seriousness of the coronavirus, he understands why. "There are plenty of people who don't know anyone who has been affected by COVID," he said.
That's because it has had such an inordinate impact on people of color, the marginalized, the elderly, he said.
"It's our own fault for not wanting to see the soft underbelly of society," he said.
But he suggested that the coronavirus ultimately could have a positive legacy.
Given that so many fatalities occurred among people with preexisting conditions, the nation would be wise now to turn its attentions to fighting the likes of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, he said.
Rather than merely bracing for he next pandemic, he added, "I think we have other public health priorities that definitely need to be addressed."(c)2020 The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC