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

Headline: “‘Hit Influenza When It Comes’”

Source: Spokane Daily Chronicle, September 30, 1918, page 3

Subject: Preparations for the coming influenza epidemic

Synopsis: City health officer Dr. J.B. Anderson outlines his plan to combat the influenza epidemic if it were to impact Spokane. All public gatherings would be forbidden, and all theaters closed. He also requests that anyone who has a cold seek immediate medical attention, and for no one to expectorate in public without using a handkerchief.

Notable Quotations:

• “‘At the first indication of any form of an epidemic of the disease which is ravaging the east, all theaters and public assemblages will be forbidden.’”

• “‘It is the spitting in public places, the sneezing and coughing that must be stopped.’”

“‘Hit Influenza When It Comes’”

Health Officer Prepares to Meet the Epidemic if It Heads This Way.

            “So far as I know there is yet no sign of an epidemic of Spanish influenza in Spokane, but if an epidemic does come all places of public gathering will be immediately and tightly closed until the danger is passed,” said Dr. J.B. Anderson, city health officer, early this morning.

            “At the first indication of any form of an epidemic of the disease which is ravaging the east, all theaters and public assemblages will be forbidden. It is the only way to prevent the spread of the disease, which is communicated easily. It travels only as fast as means of transportation are available and that means as fast as an afflicted person can go from one community to another or move about within the community.

            “The health department asks that in the interest of public health all persons afflicted with colds will take immediate medical treatment. Particularly do we wish those persons to stay away from crowds or assemblages. The Liberty theater has asked its patrons through a message flashed on the screen to ‘sneeze in your handkerchief and not the other fellow’s face.’ I wish that all theaters would deliver the same message. It is the spitting in public places, the sneezing and coughing that must be stopped.”