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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: City takes deep breath of relief as quarantine lifts

Quarantine lifting, the general good mood of the city was yet hampered by some slight apprehension. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Quarantine lifting, the general good mood of the city was yet hampered by some slight apprehension. (Spokesman-Review archives)

“Spokane Is Happy Once More,” enthused a Spokane Daily Chronicle headline, because the ban on all public gatherings was lifted.

Theaters, churches, lodges and clubs were scheduled to reopen the next day, after six weeks of quarantine due to the Spanish flu epidemic.

“A quickening of the business and social life of the city is expected,” said the Chronicle. Hundreds of people had been thrown out of work by the ban, which also closed businesses such as billiard rooms and card rooms.

Schools would reopen in a week. The delay was necessary to allow teachers to return to the city. Many had been “working faithfully in helping to prevent the spread of the disease and relieving sufferers” and “were exhausted and must have time to recuperate,” said city health officer Dr. J.B. Anderson.

The announcement came after Anderson and other city health authorities examined the statistics and determined that the number of new cases was steadily decreasing. They believed that the danger point had passed. Other large cities in the West had already lifted their bans.

However, Anderson appeared to harbor some apprehensions. He kept the ban in place for dance halls and balls, in which patrons “dance face-to-face.” He also expressed nervousness – well-founded, as it turned out – about opening the schools.

“No one can tell just what effect the opening of the schools will have on further spread of the disease,” said Anderson, which may have been another reason he delayed the school opening.

The latest statistics showed only 27 new cases over the weekend. The official death toll stood at 189 – with three new deaths reported.

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