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Sunday, August 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Mixed messages on Spanish flu’s progress, but signs remain troubling

Despite optimistic headlines, signs of the Spanish flu continued to crop up in Spokane. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Despite optimistic headlines, signs of the Spanish flu continued to crop up in Spokane. (Spokesman-Review archives)

A front-page headline in the Spokane Daily Chronicle said, “Flu Situation Is Some Better, Reports Show” – but other articles indicated the situation was more serious than ever.

The “canning sugar” office in Spokane was ordered closed because it violated the ban on public gatherings. This was an office where people could obtain extra sugar – rationed in wartime – for home canning purposes. The city heath officer said it was a “distinct menace,” because so many people were lining up for sugar.

In Yakima, all shop clerks and bank clerks were now required to wear face masks. Spokane’s health officer said that “no doubt employees of the department stores and barber shops will be wearing them in the near future.”

The “Some Better” headline referred to the fact that only 33 new cases were reported in the morning. However, the total number of cases now approached 2,000. No space was left in the city’s hospitals and the nursing shortage was getting worse.

From the Wobbly beat: A total of 27 Wobblies were arraigned in Spokane’s federal court on charges of conspiracy and espionage, and all of them shouted “No!” when asked whether they wanted to plead guilty.

They were arrested on suspicion of advocating a general strike of loggers, miners and other laborers.

One defendant told the judge that the men were receiving insufficient food in jail and a “number of men are suffering from malnutrition.”

The judge said that he should complain to the jail authorities, not to the court.

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