One day, a federal government bureaucrat stood on the fields of North Pittsburgh last fall. He looked indifferent yet emotional. The bureaucrat was standing right beside a mass grave of 100 million people worldwide that died of what was the 1918 flu pandemic.
“This grave site is a reminder of the devastation a flu pandemic can wreak,” said Dennis Carroll, director of the Emerging Threats Unit of the U.S. Agency for International Development. “This kind of carnage is not relegated to history. When we talk about another flu pandemic happening, it’s not a matter of if, but when.”
That was the opening of Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak, the sec-part Netflix documentary. Pertinent, relatable and most of all, horrific as we stare into the eyes of yet another pandemic––another battle with death.
Ryan McGarry, director of the scene in the fields of Pennsylvania, is a Los Angeles filmmaker and quite impressively a doctor. Now, he faces a potential outburst of those who are affected by the coronavirus at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
“I don’t really know how to feel right now,” McGarry, a doctor for Keck Medicine of USC, said in an interview. “I am glad that we were able to highlight the warnings of some very smart people. But as an artist and a physician, I can’t really begin to understand the level of suffering and ruin we may face. I mean, I think it’s going to change our lives forever.”
Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak and McGarry have not only been pertinently ominous but have also been in high demand. Premiered in January, the documentary has found itself in Netflix’s “Top 10 in the U.S. Today.”
“Maybe we now come out of this unified and prioritize public health and the healthcare system in the way that we should. I sure hope so,” McGarry says.