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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Empress reopens – with a stern warning

The Empress Theater was allowed to reopen, but the city health officer cautioned against further breaches of code. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The Empress Theater was allowed to reopen, but the city health officer cautioned against further breaches of code. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The Empress Theater was allowed to reopen after being closed for 24 hours for violating the rules of the flu quarantine.

The city health officer said the theater had agreed to follow all of the regulations, such as not allowing overcrowding, and not allowing people to congregate in the lobby.

Yet health officer Dr. J.B. Anderson sternly warned that the next theater – or business of any kind – which violated the ban would be “closed tight and remain that way until the ban is lifted.”

Dr. Anderson delivered some good news about the trajectory of the epidemic. The number of new cases plummeted to 80, the lowest in many days. More patients were being discharged than admitted to the city’s emergency flu hospital.

But Dr. Anderson was reluctant to express much optimism, since hopes had been dashed too many times in the past.

From the whiskey beat: The Spokane County sheriff relented and released 100 cases of confiscated whiskey to the area’s public health authorities.

Why? For use in treating flu patients.

The sheriff said he was generally opposed to whiskey drinking – consumption was illegal under the state’s prohibition law – but he finally agreed to hand over the whiskey cache after talking to the county and city health officers.

“Both of these doctors say that whiskey is beneficial in the treatment of the flu,” said the sheriff. “… If the use of the liquor in combating the disease is beneficial, I feel justified in putting it where it can do the most good.”

It would be taken to the city’s emergency flu hospital and other hospitals.

The exact nature of whiskey’s medicinal benefit was not specified.

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