In a well-meaning tweet Tuesday afternoon, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called the novel coronavirus “the great equalizer” — capable of sickening anyone, 20-somethings and senior citizens, ordinary Americans or famous actors. All of us could potentially contract covid-19 in coming days and weeks — including the governor’s brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who came down with the disease Tuesday.Certainly, Gov. Cuomo’s broader point, that no one is immune to the coronavirus, is soberingly valid. But his phrasing is misleading.Simply put, to call any virus a “great equalizer” is false. Pandemics amplify existing inequalities, usually hurting the poor worse than the wealthy. A century ago, history’s greatest pandemic — the 1918 Influenza outbreak — taught us as much.No one is sure where the 1918 flu first surfaced. One possibility is U.S. Army camps in Kansas, where American doughboys fell ill in the spring of 1918. After infecting the local civilian population, troops deployed to the front lines of WWI, carrying the flu with them on steamships and trains. Soon, the virus had spread to all corners of the globe, from Philadelphia and Oslo to Canada and India.By the time the dust settled, the 1918 influenza pandemic had killed at


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