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

Headline: “Officials Act at Proper Time”

Source: Spokane Daily Chronicle, October 11, 1918, page 11

Subject: health officials ban public gatherings

Synopsis: Dr. J.G. Harbison and other health officials have decided to place Spokane under a citywide quarantine, banning public gatherings.  Harbison promises that this preventative measure will help keep the cases of influenza in Spokane as low as possible.

Notable Quotations:

• “Now is the proper time for such action rather than to wait until the disease has assumed alarming proportions, as we have a right to expect it to do according to the experience of other cities.  However, there is no reason why the populace should be seized with hysterical fear because of such action.”

• “It is a common fact in all history from the beginning of man down to the present, that certain diseases spread according to the mingling together of people and that they travel with the crowd.”

• “Those who are showing symptoms of influenza should be patriotic enough not to go about exposing their friends and neighbors to the infection.

"Officials Act At Proper Time"

Quarantine Will Prevent Spread of Influenza Epidemic in Spokane.

by Dr. J.G. Harbison

Member Health and Hygiene Committee, Chamber of Commerce.

         The rapid development and widespread occurrence of the present epidemic of influenza indicates that it is of a highly contagious form. Because of this fact the Spokane health officials have seen fit to place the city in a state of quarantine, as it were, by prohibiting indoor gatherings of people, doing this upon the first sign of the disease in the city.

         Now is the proper time for such action rather than to wait until the disease has assumed alarming proportions, as we have a right to expect it to do according to the experience of other cities. However, there is no reason why the populace should be seized with hysterical fear because of such action.

         On the other hand, it is a time to keep cool and observe all common sense safeguards against the infection. Whether we believe in infection, as such, or not, or in the contagion of disease, we are all agreed that prevention is better than cure, and that is the sole purpose of the order that has gone out from the health office.

Travel With Crowd.

         It is a common fact in all history from the beginning of man down to the present, that certain diseases spread according to the mingling together of people and that they travel with the crowd. Likewise, the isolation of those afflicted serves to stem the tide of illness. This has been abundantly proven in the present war, even in devastated and poverty stricken countries where the facilities for work were none too good.

         Those who are showing symptoms of influenza should be patriotic enough not to go about exposing their friends and neighbors to the infection. By such cooperation will the epidemic be controlled and the quarantine lifted that much earlier.