We ask whether mortality from historical pandemics has any predictive content for mortality in the Covid-19 pandemic. We find strong persistence in public health performance. Places that performed worse in terms of mortality in the 1918 influenza pandemic also have higher Covid-19 mortality today. This is true across countries as well as across a sample of large US cities. Experience with SARS in 2003 is associated with slightly lower mortality today. We discuss some socio-political factors that may account for persistence including distrust of expert advice, lack of cooperation, over-confidence, and health care supply shortages. Multi-generational effects of past pandemics may also matter.