Spokane and the Nation: The Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919

Headline: “Crowds Boost ‘Flu’”

Source: Spokesman-Review, January 16, 1919, page 6

Subject: Crowds increase flu

Synopsis: Dr. J.B. Anderson, Spokane’s health officer, says that a revival of the influenza epidemic may happen. Theater owners have been letting crowds into their theaters, which could lead to more cases of influenza.

Notable Quotation:

• “‘To me it seems that the home quarantine is the sole plan of combating influenza is brutal,’ said Dr. Anderson.” 

• “Take the theaters.  Since the ban was lifted they have again thrown all precautions to the wind and jam people into their places to the extent of their capacity.” 

“Crowds Boost ‘Flu’”

Dr. J.B. Anderson Condemns Theater Practices

Throw Precautions to the Wind, Seat as Many as They Can – 33 New Cases.

            Although 20 fewer cases of influenza were reported yesterday to the city health office than on the day before, Dr. John B. Anderson, city health officer, said that he was not at all encouraged by the outlook.  Doctors, he said, had reported a rapid increase in influenza patients and the situation pointed to a probable revival of the epidemic.  Thirty-three flu cases and two of pneumonia were reported yesterday.  There were four deaths, bring the total since the beginning to 450.

            “To me it seems that the home quarantine is the sole plan of combating influenza is brutal,” said Dr. Anderson.  “By this I mean that people are lulled into a false sense of security and take chances that they would not otherwise incur had thy known that the danger is lurking.

            “The only way in which influenza can be controlled is to keep people from getting together.  A modified ban, such as we had before, is the only way to combat the spread of influenza, and I am becoming more convinced of this all the time.

            “Take the theaters.  Since the ban was lifted they have again thrown all precautions to the wind and jam people into their places to the extent of their capacity.  So long as people are willing to rush into crowds or crowded theaters they get the flu.”

An effort was made yesterday to have the city health office lift the ban on dancing, to permit the giving of a private party.  The applicant was a woman, who was informed that the dancing would continue under the ban indefinitely.