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Thursday, December 13, 2018  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Flu prudence urged as public life comes roaring back

Public spaces filled to record levels after a prohibition against assembly was lifted. But while new flu cases were diminishing in number, the sickness had not yet abated. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Public spaces filled to record levels after a prohibition against assembly was lifted. But while new flu cases were diminishing in number, the sickness had not yet abated. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Spokane life roared back to normal, as thousands flocked back to theaters, churches and streetcars.

The pent-up demand was unleashed all at once, after all public gatherings had been banned for six weeks because of the Spanish flu epidemic.

The Spokane Chamber of Commerce reported its largest crowd ever for its noon luncheon. Many, in fact, had to be turned away.

One of the guests at that luncheon was city health officer Dr. J.B. Anderson. The chamber president thanked Anderson for the “efficient manner in which the influenza epidemic was handled.”

Underlying all of this joy was one unsettling fact. The Spanish flu epidemic was not, in fact, over. The number of new cases was diminishing, but people were still contracting the disease every day. The total number of cases, over the last two months, was above 5,000, with 189 deaths.

Anderson was still urging people to be prudent. He was sending health officials to all of Spokane’s theaters to keep an eye on sneezing or sniffling patrons.

These officials will “politely but firmly” request the immediate departure of any theatergoer who sneezes or shows signs of flu. All of the theater managers were complying with this order.

From the crime beat: Charlie Dale, Spokane’s “king of the bootleggers,” was in jail again.

This time, he was arrested on a charge of receiving stolen property – a Nash touring car.


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