More Than Century Ago, Bryn Mawr College Survived Spanish Flu Pandemic as Early Adopter of Quarantine, Social Distancing

More than a century ago, Bryn Mawr College was one of the few local communities to deal well with the Spanish flu pandemic with quarantine and social distancing. Image via the U.S. NATIONAL ARCHIVES and

Over a century ago, when Philadelphia flubbed its response to Spanish flu by holding a parade that helped spread the virus, Bryn Mawr College was one of the very few communities to successfully deal with the pandemic through early adoption of quarantine and social distancing, writes Layla A. Jones for the Billy Penn.

Bryn Mawr was one of seven pockets across the country that managed to have no deaths during the pandemic that took over 600,000 American lives. As such, they were named “provisional escape communities” by researchers.

The school was led by president M. Carey Thomas, who approached the pandemic with what researchers call non-pharmaceutical interventions.

He made free vaccines available to everyone at the college, albeit the wrong strain for the 1918 virus.

Thomas also immediately enforced travel restrictions, barring those on the campus from leaving and preventing those off campus entering. In addition, nobody was allowed to use public transportation.

However with 110 recorded cases, the campus did not escape altogether, but by the end of the pandemic, there were no recorded deaths.

Read more about Bryn Mawr College at the Billy Penn by clicking here.


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