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Tuesday, August 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: As flu cases climb, city health officer hardens line on public gatherings

The city health officer restated his absolute ban on public gatherings, saying anyone found in violation of the order would be prosecuted. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The city health officer restated his absolute ban on public gatherings, saying anyone found in violation of the order would be prosecuted. (Spokesman-Review archives)

City health officer Dr. J.B. Anderson threatened to shut down any business that violated the modified Spanish flu quarantine.

If a cigar store or billiard room allowed card games, for instance, he would close their doors. He said “no second chance will be given.”

If someone held a dance or a card game in their own homes, they would be prosecuted. It was dangerous, he said, “for people to remain facing each other, as at a card table.”

He also explained the reasoning behind the ban on all singing in churches. The throat “acts as a releaser of germs during the singing, nearly the same as during coughing, and that would be dangerous.”

The situation had worsened to such an extent that Dr. Anderson was forced to call off his trip to the national influenza conference in Chicago. Another 265 flu cases were reported in one day, bringing the total to 9,045. In one week, there had been 22 deaths, and the official death toll stood at 284,

From the booze beat: Apparently some people believed that liquor was a cure for Spanish flu, or at least eased the symptoms.

A committee of local citizens appealed to the sheriff’s office to release confiscated bootleg liquor for use at flu hospitals. An attorney argued that the move was essential in an emergency of this kind.

A panel of Superior Court judges rejected the plea.

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