Although polio is only a memory in the United States, the current pandemic is stirring up feelings analogous to when this insidious crippler terrified a nation. Like the Great Influenza of 1918, polio offers historical perspective. Both the poliovirus and the coronavirus rely on “silent carriers”—those showing no immediate symptoms—to spread the disease, inciting a fearful sense of uncertainty. Both target specific, if dramatically different, age groups: COVID-19 seems especially lethal for the elderly, polio for the young.
In San Angelo, some businesses remained open, simply hoping to survive. The local cleaning establishment vowed to disinfect its equipment before each pressing and wash. The Sherwin-Williams Paint and Hardware Company promised its loyal customers toxic bug spray free of charge. (“Bring your own container,” it advised.) Agents hawked special “polio insurance,” while the town chiropractor boasted that he could prevent the disease by “keeping your