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HISTORY ON BAY: The 1858 Staten Island Quarantine War

For the past week, we’ve been inundated with posts about the spread of COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In response to the outbreak, social distancing and quarantines have been discussed as a way to slow the spread of the disease.  As of the writing of this blog, Staten Island has only seen 5 cases of COVID-19, but the idea of a quarantine is hardly new to the island.

Back in the early1800s, the state of New York established a marine hospital on Staten Island which was used to quarantine passengers showing signs of illness as they entered  New York harbor. Residents opposed “the Quarantine” from the start. By 1858, they had had enough.

The History Guy is a YouTuber who posts 10- to 15-minute videos of himself telling stories about people, places or events that have been largely forgotten in modern society but that he finds fascinating several days a week.

Below, watch as The History Guy remembers Staten Island’s history with quarantine and the 1858 Staten Island Quarantine War.

We survived all of that, and we’ll survive this moment in history as well. But while I have you here, I’ll remind you to wash your hands and consider those around us who are more vulnerable than ourselves as we make decisions until the outbreak is over.

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