Like its sister city San Francisco, Oakland began experiencing cases of influenza in late-September 1918. On September 26, three cases were reported in the city. All three victims were from different neighborhoods, suggesting to health officials that other areas would likely soon be affected as well. But unlike San Francisco, where the number of new influenza cases exploded quickly from the first reported victims, the initial progression of the epidemic in Oakland was slow: by mid-October only 223 cases had been reported to health authorities.1
Perhaps because of the epidemic’s slow start, Oakland’s initial response to the threat was also rather unhurried. Residents were advised to be vigilant and to use antiseptic throat and nasal solutions. The Health Department ordered all saloons, soda fountains, and other places serving drinks to disinfect their glassware. On the evening of October 13, the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health and Safety, Dr. F. F. Jackson, met with a group of 100 local physicians to discuss the impending epidemic and to prepare the city’s response. The group decided to have movie theaters screen short films about influenza prevention and to use schools to disseminate prevention materials to students. Physicians were urged to isolate their patients. The hope was that school, church, and business closures would not be necessary if enough preventive and educational action was taken.2
It came as somewhat of a shock, therefore, when Mayor John L. Davies suddenly announced on October 18 a citywide closure of all theaters, movie houses, places of public amusement, schools, and churches (although open air services were allowed). The reason for the sudden reversal in policy: the appointment of Dr. Daniel Crosby to replace former City Health Officer Dr. Kirby Smith, who had resigned in order to take a post in the Army Medical Corps. Health Officer Crosby was of a very different mind on the matter of the epidemic, and believed that more active measures than education and risk prevention were necessary if Oakland’s influenza epidemic was going to be kept under control. On the very afternoon of his appointment Crosby appeared before the City Council and pointed out the gravity of the situation, suggesting that Oakland enact the same precautions as San Francisco had. Mayor Davies took Crosby’s information and advice seriously and, weighing it alongside similar recommendations from both state and federal authorities, decided to issue the closure order.3
The closure order came none too soon. Within a few days the epidemic exploded across the city, and by October 23 there were 2,200 reported cases in Oakland. Gauze, already at a premium during the war, became ever scarcer as residents began turning the material into face masks. The Health Department informed the community that wholesale druggists were nearly out of many necessary drugs. To help alleviate the pressure on the main city health care facilities, the city auditorium was converted into an 80-bed emergency hospital, with the city prison chain gang pressed into service to prepare the facility. A few days after opening, the Auditorium Hospital was admitting patients at the rate of one every fifteen minutes. The emergency hospital primarily served the poor, and those unable to pay were treated for free. The sheer volume of patients admitted–despite pre-screening by nurses to ensure that only serious influenza cases were placed in a bed–put a tremendous strain on resources, and an urgent call for beds, bedding, cooked food, and other supplies was made to the community.4 So quickly did the case numbers rise that cafes, restaurants, and saloons closed early for the first time in memory due to a lack of business.5
On October 24, the Oakland City Council met in special session and issued a mandatory mask ordinance. Beginning October 25, all Oakland residents and visitors would be required to wear a mask while in public, with stiff penalties ranging from fines of $5 to $100 and up to ten days in the city jail for failure to comply.6 To aid police in catching mask scofflaws, the City commissioned 300 men and women to act as special “War Service” deputies, charged with securing the names and addresses of those caught without their masks on in public so that police could more easily apprehend them at a later time.7 As Oaklanders prepared to don their masks, the local chapter of the Red Cross busily constructed 50,000 of the devices to distribute throughout the city.8
Just as in San Francisco, Oakland’s mask ordinance was met with mixed feelings. The very first day it went into effect two men were held up at gunpoint by two robbers wearing flu masks to conceal their identities.9 On the other hand, a local rabbi tried to entice his congregants to accept masks by telling them that masked women were more intriguing to men.10 A newspaper article in the “Society and Women’s” section said the flu mask had “turned the social–as opposed to the anti-social–part of our people into a colossal Ku-Klux Klan, but for good instead of evil, so whereas should we worry, assuming a clean conscience dwelleth behind the mask?”11 Cigar shop owners almost universally hated the ordinances wherever they were passed. One entrepreneurial shopkeeper in Oakland, however, capitalized on the law by creating a unique mask with a flap over the mouth, allowing smokers to enjoy their cigars while still complying with the law. Selling these masks alongside her cigars increased her business one hundred percent.12
As cases mounted–over 3,500 cases were reported by October 26, with 517 new cases added to the list that very morning–Oaklanders resorted to some rather novel ways to meet the demands of the epidemic. Actresses, thrown out of work by the closure of theaters, volunteered their service as nurses. Likewise, the Red Cross and city health officials summoned teachers to the emergency hospital in the city auditorium to begin immediate training as volunteer nurses. Even prisoners from the city jail were pressed into service at the emergency hospital. So impressed with their performance was the Chief of Police (who had suffered a severe case of the flu himself in late-October), that he publicly stated that he would ask for the parole of all prisoners who had volunteered.13 Prisoners were also used to dig graves in the local cemeteries, as regular gravediggers could not keep up with the pace of burials.14
In the last few days of October the Oakland’s flu situation improved slightly, and health officials issued cautiously worded but nonetheless optimistic statements to the public that the end of the epidemic was under control. Still, Oakland officials ramped up their efforts to ensure compliance with mask efforts. On November 1, the City Council officially passed the mask ordinance. Police were ordered to arrest all persons caught not wearing a mask while on Oakland’s streets. Without even hearing the cases yet, one police judge said he would impose the maximum sentence–up to $100 fine and ten days imprisonment–on anyone brought before him for violating the mask order.15 More than 200 people were arrested in the first day and a half of the order. The first 97 defendants arraigned were charged a fine of $10 each or five days in jail; most opted to pay their fine promptly and be on their way. Judges warned violators that repeat offenders would most definitely face imprisonment. They were also admonished for being slackers. “It is a shame that good citizens should be brought into police court for violating the new mask ordinance,” said one police judge. “While doctors and hundreds of volunteer citizens are giving their time to help check this epidemic every patriotic citizen should cooperate.”16 The message to all residents was clear: Oakland officials were serious about the mask order.
The number of new cases declined steadily throughout late-October and early-November, which health officials attributed to the widespread use of masks. They also attributed it to the zealous arresting of violators by police officers, who made examples of any and all mask “slackers” they could catch.17 As the number of cases and deaths began to decline, Oakland began to relax its guard. Starting on Sunday, November 10, churchgoers were allowed to attend half-hour services. That day, only 54 new flu cases were reported to officials, leading everyone to conclude optimistically that the end of the epidemic was near. The emergency hospital saw a drastic decrease in the number of new admittances, leading Health Officer Crosby to declare its closure as of midnight, November 15.18 More important to residents, however, was the announcement that the City’s closure order would be removed on Saturday, November 16. Finally, on Tuesday, November 19, came the best news to residents: Mayor Davie’s announcement that masks could be removed at midnight. The not-so-good news for children was that schools would re-open on Monday, November 25.19
As in many other cities, cases continued to appear in December and into January 1919. As influenza appeared to make a second strong showing in Oakland, one city commissioner pressed for another mask order as was being contemplated in nearby San Francisco. Health Officer Crosby, however, did not agree, arguing that there would be cases for several months to come but that there simply were too few cases currently to justify such strong action.20 Instead, he urged residents to isolate themselves if they felt ill. Besides, he added, recent medical reports and conferences had concluded that there was no appreciable difference in outcome whether a city resorted to mask ordinances or not.21
Throughout January cases began to mount again, although nowhere near the same levels that had visited Oakland during the dreaded second wave of the epidemic. Health Officer Crosby was still hesitant to revisit the idea of another closure order or mask ordinance, however. Tensions mounted as the weeks passed, culminating in a city council meeting on January 21 to decide whether or not to pass a second mask ordinance. Christian Scientists, labor representatives, and theater and movie house owners and managers vigorously protested the measure. Perhaps the most vocal opponent was Mayor Davie, who angrily recounted the story of his arrest in Sacramento for not wearing a mask and the humiliation he had to endure while waiting in jail for police to arrest someone else who could make change for the $20 the mayor had on him. Davie read from a recent California State Board of Health report that declared that universal masking “proved to be of no value.” At one point Davie stated that, “the mask is just what it is named–a mask–a camouflage.” A physician present commented that, “if a cave man should appear in San Francisco he would think the masked citizens all lunatics.” In the end, the Council decided to lay the ordinance on the table so that it might be passed at a later date if necessary.22 As the number of new cases dwindled to zero, no further action was taken.
The epidemic affected nearly every aspect of life in Oakland. Garbage collection became difficult, for example, when, in early November 75 of the 90-man sanitation force came down with influenza. In many districts, trash simply piled up along the curb, waiting to be hauled off by men too sick to work.23 Election Day saw a lack of sufficient numbers of poll workers due to both illness and the fear of contagion. Influenza did not dissuade a group of a dozen men from arguing over the election results, who, when they adjusted their masks, where promptly arrested and fined $10 each for failure to comply with the ordinance. Their defense–that their masks handicapped them in their arguments with “more fluent talkers”–apparently did not impress the judge.24
But the epidemic was not merely an inconvenience; it was a deadly killer. During the devastating second wave of the epidemic–from October 1918 to February 1919–nearly 1,300 Oaklanders died of the disease. The result was a total excess death rate of 506 per 100,000 people. Somewhat surprisingly, Oakland did significantly better than did San Francisco, which had an excess death rate of 673 per 100,000, one of the worst in the nation. The reasons for the striking differences between two cities only miles apart are uncertain, but may lie in the relative quickness in each city’s response as well as the length of which epidemic control measures were kept in place: Oakland was twice as quick to respond with closure orders in its epidemic as was San Francisco, and kept those measures in place for nearly twice as long. Perhaps Oakland officials, looking west across the Bay, learned from some of the mistakes made by San Francisco officials in the handling of the epidemic.
1 “Mare Island Now Target of Influenza,” Oakland Tribune, 27 Sept. 1918, 20; “Influenza Cases Held in Check,” Oakland Tribune, 13 Oct. 1918, 48; “Flu Makes Only Slight Inroad Here,” Oakland Tribune, 17 Oct. 1918, 4.
2 “Epidemic of Flu Is at Standstill,” Oakland Tribune, 15 Oct. 1918, 14.
3 “Theaters, Churches Are Closed by Mayor,” Oakland Tribune, 18 Oct. 1918, 1.
4 “Drug, Gauze Famine to Be New Menace, Oakland Tribune, 23 Oct. 1918, 12; “Auditorium Houses New Flu Patients,” Oakland Tribune, 22 Oct. 1918, 4; “’Give Us Beds, Bedding’ Is the Plea of Flu Hospital,” Oakland Tribune, 24 Oct. 1918, 7.
5 “Bars, Cafes in Dark; Patrons Are Missing,” Oakland Tribune, 24 Oct. 1918, 7.
6 “Wear Mask, Says Law, or Face Arrest,” Oakland Tribune, 25 Oct. 1918, 1.
7 “Flu Cops Are Given Order,” Oakland Tribune, 26, Oct. 1918, 7.
8 “Fund Is Growing to Make Flu Masks,” Oakland Tribune, 26 Oct. 1918, 7.
9 “Flu Mask Is Worn by Holdup man,” Oakland Tribune, 25 Oct. 1918, 16.
10 “Dr. Franklin Writes Sermon for Sunday,” Oakland Tribune, 26 Oct. 1918, 4.
11 “Society and Women’s Page,” Oakland Tribune, 27 Oct. 1918, 25.
12 “Cigar Stores are Miffed at Masks,” Oakland Tribune, 26 Oct. 1918, 7; “Flu Mask with Door in It for Smokers, Fad,” Oakland Tribune, 16 Oct. 1918, 7.
13 “Flu Cases on Increase in Oakland,” Oakland Tribune, 26 Oct. 1918, 7; “Teachers Will Help Nurse, Call Is Issued for Meeting,” Oakland Tribune, 26 Oct. 1918, 7; “Policemen Must Wear Flu Masks,” Oakland Tribune, 26 Oct. 1918, 7.
14 “Chain Gang Sent to Aid Grave Diggers,” Oakland Tribune, 26 Oct. 1918, 7.
15 “Mask Order Law; Arrests Are Ordered,” Oakland Enquirer, 1 Nov. 1918, 9; “Fine Is Set on Men Who Drop Masks,” Oakland Tribune, 1 Nov. 1918, 12; “Arrest All Maskless as Cases Grow,” Oakland Tribune, 1 Nov. 1918, 18; “Death Toll From Flu 39 in 24 Hours,” Oakland Tribune, 2 Nov. 1918, 1.
16 “Hundred in Toils for Not Having Mask,” Oakland Tribune, 2 Nov. 1918, 1.
17 Within the first four days of the enforced version of the mask law, 709 citizens were arrested, $6,500 was paid in fines, and $590 was forfeited. The courts and the city jail were packed (although police insisted that there was still plenty of space in the cells), and masked judges turned down all excuses as they handed down their sentences. The Tribune described those sitting in the city jail awaiting arraignment: “Shrouded faces of those who had learned the error of their ways looked gloomily from prison bars last night like the Veiled Lady of Khartoum, for the first thing the police do is to see that a mask is properly worn in jail, where useful lessons in the art of wearing masks are enthusiastically administered by the jailers in charge.” See “488 Arrests Under Flu Mask Law,” Oakland Tribune, 3 Nov. 1918, 1, and “$7000 Fines Paid in Flu Mask Cases,” Oakland Tribune, 4 Nov. 1918, 14.
18 “Influenza Hospital May Close Tonight,” Oakland Tribune, 14 Nov. 1918, 9.
19 “All Oakland Masks Will Go Off Tonight at Midnight,” 19 Nov. 1918, 1; “Schools to Be Opened Monday,” Oakland Tribune, 19 Nov. 1918, 2.
20 “Delay Action on Flu Resolution,” Oakland Tribune, 31 Dec. 1918, 5.
21 “$10,000 Pledged for Flu Fight,” Oakland Tribune, 8 Jan. 1919, 3.
22 “Flu Masking Ordinance is Turned Down,” Oakland Tribune, 21 Jan. 1919, 1; California Board of Health, Twenty-Sixth Biennial report of the State Board of Health of California for the Fiscal Years from July 1, 1918, to June 30, 1920 (Sacramento: California State Printing Office, 1921), 24.
23 “Arrest All Maskless as Cases Grow,” Oakland Tribune, 1 Nov. 1918, 18.
24 “Early Vote Is Light; Officials Lacking,” Oakland Tribune, 5 Nov. 1918, 1; “Mask Violators Argue, Are Fined,” Oakland Tribune, 6 Nov. 1918, 5.
|200||Excess Death Rate (per 100,000)|
September 21, 1918
Dr. George Ebright, President of State Board of Health, insists Spanish influenza is so far completely absent in Oakland.
October 5, 1918
Dr. Kirby Smith, Health Officer, announces that Oakland will follow orders issued by the State Board of Health.Six cases are reported to the Oakland Health Department, all of which are strangers entering the City.
October 9, 1918
Dr. F.F. Jackson, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health and Safety, reports 21 new cases yesterday, and 17 today. The City of Oakland orders all saloons, soda fountains, and other establishments serving drinks to wash all glasses with a 5% lye solution. Health Officer Smith calls a conference of prominent Oakland physicians to discuss influenza plans.
October 10, 1918
14 new cases are reported. Some are among street car platform men, but very few among children.
October 12, 1918
There are now 223 cases of influenza in Oakland, and one death is reported.
October 14, 1918
At a meeting to discuss measures for combating infection it is decided that moving picture theaters will screen films about preventing flu, and schools will disseminate preventive policies to children. The hope is that this will prevent the closing of schools and churches. Severe colds are to be treated as influenza. Student social functions and assemblies are canceled.
October 15, 1918
Dr. Kirby Smith resigns as Health Officer in order to join the service.
October 16, 1918
There are five deaths today. Reports of new cases come in so quickly that clerks are not able to count them all before inspectors leave to place quarantines.
October 17, 1918
Acting Health Officer Dr. E. F. Jones states that theaters will not close unless the number of influenza cases rises dramatically. Jones asks for five more nurses and two automobiles to carry them about the city. Theaters, shipyards, and department stores are distributing public health pamphlets. Movie theaters are requested not to dust or leave windows and doors open to ventilate, and are asked to wash down armrests and other surfaces daily with a soda solution. Ushers are to remove any patrons who cough or sneeze.
October 18, 1918
Mayor John L. Davie issues a proclamation, effective at midnight, against any public gatherings, and authorizes Chief of Police J.H. Nedderman to enforce orders. Poolrooms, lodges, churches, schools, and places of amusement are all included in the ban. A call for volunteer physicians and nurses is issued. A prominent Oakland physician, Dr. Daniel Crosby, is appointed the new Health Officer of Oakland.
October 19, 1918
Health officer Crosby requests more volunteer nurses. To avoid the annual congestion in City Hall elevators, tax-payers must now write-in. Public schools are hard hit by influenza and Assistant Superintendent E. Morris Cox reports 10,000 absences, 5,000 of which were caused by influenza.
October 21, 1918
Health Officer Crosby says all delivery persons, streetcar passengers, clerks, and city officials should wear gauze masks. Twenty female parolees in the City Prison are working as nurses for the City Health Department. For sanitary purposes, the streets will be flushed with salt water. Libraries are closed to public for the rest of the influenza scare, but staff will continue to work for the present.
October 22, 1918
The Municipal Auditorium is converted into a heated 67-bed emergency hospital. Cumulative cases in the City total 1,823.
October 23, 1918
200 women currently working at the Oakland Red Cross are making gauze masks at the rate of 5,000 per day. All masks made are being supplied to the army cantonments, and the Red Cross requests that public make their own masks. Dr. S.H. Buteau takes over the new facilities at the Municipal Auditorium emergency hospital today, which is expected to soon house up to 77 patients, with the support of area relief organizations.
October 25, 1918
Twenty-five more beds are needed immediately at the Municipal Auditorium emergency hospital, and will be provided by the City. Influenza patients are being admitted to the hospital at rate of one every fifteen minutes. Many businesses are affected by lack of employees due to illness.
Oakland orders that all individuals in public must wear a mask. Those who do not follow the ordinance will be fined $5-$100 and/or spend no more than ten days in jail. Five deaths are reported at the Municipal Auditorium emergency hospital, for a mortality rate of 3.5 percent. Doctors state that the peak of the epidemic has been reached, thanks to the strict precautionary measures taken.
October 26, 1918
Health Officer Crosby reports that the number of new cases and deaths have decreased over 24 hours, while the number of discharges from the hospital has increased. The Municipal Auditorium emergency hospital announces 200 new cases and 7 total deaths to date. Chief of Police Nedderman orders policemen to wear masks, and reports 41 men off-duty due to illness.
October 28, 1918
Only 100 new cases are reported, leading the Oakland Health Department to declare the epidemic under control. Teachers are mobilized to serve in shifts as nurses in the Municipal Auditorium emergency hospital.
October 30, 1918
Commissioner of the Department of Public Health and Safety Fred F. Morse says he believes death tolls may rise, but that the epidemic as a whole is being conquered. He also condemns the public for not wearing masks, cautions that penalties could be made more severe, and requests abstinence from handshaking until epidemic passes. Chief of Police Nedderman requests a suspension of all Halloween activities in light of influenza measures. Today for the first time, the Municipal Auditorium emergency hospital discharges more cases than it admits.
October 31, 1918
Chief of Police Nedderman orders bartenders and assistants to wear masks, and requests that all chairs be removed from bar rooms to help prevent lingering. Commissioner Morse and Health Officer Crosby issue orders to have all those not wearing masks in Oakland arrested on sight.
November 1, 1918
The mask ordinance is passed into law by the City Council and goes into effect at noon. Oakland police arrest over 20 people without masks within a 2-hour period. A recent rise in influenza cases is attributed to public’s failure to wear masks.
November 2, 1918
39 deaths are recorded in the past 24 hours. This is the highest toll since influenza became prevalent. A new system of reporting is instituted, so as to more closely track the disease. 97 Oakland residents are fined $10 each for their failure to wear masks.
November 3, 1918
The City jail is crowded with mask ordinance violators, as only about a third of those arrested are able to pay the $10 fine.
November 4, 1918
The Chairman of the Red Cross Influenza Committee, Joseph E. Caine, believes the Municipal Auditorium emergency hospital will be closed in next two to three weeks. It is reported today that since noon Friday (11/1), 709 citizens have been arrested for not wearing masks.
November 5, 1918
Voting officials are not present in sufficient numbers, due to influenza fears, and replacements are difficult to secure. To date, almost 1,000 arrests have been made of mask ordinance breakers. The Red Cross is in need of workers.
November 6, 1918
Authorities say cases will drop to almost zero this week. Commissioner Morse says he is not disposed to consider any relaxation of precautionary measures. Associated Charities assumes the responsibility of helping destitute families suffering from the flu. This work was previously undertaken by the Red Cross.
November 7, 1918
A vaccine is administered free of charge at the Oakland College of Medicine today. Officials plan to meet to discuss lifting some precautions. Commissioner Morse remains opposed to the opening of schools, churches, theaters.
November 8, 1918
Congregants wearing masks may now attend church services for half an hour on Sunday mornings. The San Francisco Health Department releases 600 tubes of anti-influenza serum to Oakland, but the supply quickly runs out
November 9, 1918
The Municipal Auditorium emergency hospital now has only 125 patients remaining and may close before the first of next week. The Red Cross continues to need workers.
November 12, 1918
Only 69 patients remain at the Municipal Auditorium emergency hospital. Health Officer Crosby contemplates opening churches and places of entertainment, but reminds people of the importance of wearing masks.
November 14, 1918
Only 35 patients remain at the Municipal Auditorium emergency hospital and Health Officer Crosby announces it will close at midnight tonight. Flu restrictions are to be removed on Saturday (11/16), with theaters and movie houses to open that afternoon. Schools are to remain closed for one more week, due to teachers’ illness.
November 18, 1918
Commissioner Morse declares that if conditions continue to be favorable the mask ordinance will be lifted on Saturday (11/23).
November 19, 1918
On the advice of the Health Department, Mayor Davie issues a proclamation that all masks may be taken off at midnight tonight. A board meeting determines that schools will open next Monday (11/25), unless health authorities rule otherwise.
December 3, 1918
Several new cases of flu are reported over past 24 hours, and Health Officer Crosby states that this will likely happen throughout the winter. He advises convalescents and family members to wear masks until three weeks from time of illness passes, and school department and general employers to enforce mask-wearing on pupils, teachers, and workers with cold symptoms.
December 6, 1918
Health Officer Crosby says the epidemic is abating, and should end with continued observance of modified mask rules.
December 10, 1918
11 new cases and one death are reported. Health Officer Crosby declares latest “flare-up” is subsiding.
December 18, 1918
Associated Charities sends out a call for more nurses to combat influenza.
December 31, 1918
Commissioner W.H. Edwards recommends that Oakland citizens again don masks. Action is delayed pending a report from Health Officer Crosby.
January 4, 1919
Red Cross officials and Health Officer Crosby meet to discuss influenza developments. Crosby states that the general epidemic is not beyond the city’s control, but that there is still a great need for nurses. To help spare Oakland a further outbreak women are urged to report for nursing duty. There are 94 new cases and six deaths today, and Commissioner Morse attributes the increase to physicians following his orders to report.
January 6, 1919
There are 112 new cases and seven deaths today. Superintendent Fred M. Hunter reports that 94 teachers are absent and schools may again be closed. Health Officer Crosby, returning from a conference in Sacramento, says there is little evidence to show that masking or closures of schools are effective measures. He refuses to recommend closings, a ban on public gatherings, or masking, and urges the infected to take responsibility for preventing the spread of the disease to others in their community.
January 7, 1919
The Board of Education voted last night to close schools indefinitely, primarily due to a lack of available administrative and educational staff. There are 94 teachers absent, and 15-40% of students are absent.
January 8, 1919
Health Officer Crosby predicts a continuance of the epidemic throughout the winter, though he doesn’t think the severity will approach that of the first wave. There are 48 new cases and 2 deaths before noon today, and there are urgent calls for nurses and volunteers. Quarantine is not recommended, but those with colds are required to wear masks.
January 9, 1919
City officials formally request aid from the Red Cross, and the City Council appropriates $5,000 to epidemic control measures. 67 cases are reported from 9-11am this morning. Health Officer Crosby urges the 8-hour workday for nurses to be officially extended to 12.
January 11, 1919
Health Officer Crosby warns against panic, and says he will not be enforcing any masking ordinance.
January 13, 1919
The Red Cross still needs volunteers and nurses. To date, there have been 262 calls for aid since last Thursday (1/9). Five men have volunteered as nurses.
January 14, 1919
The City Council reinstates the mask ordinance as result of a resolution passed by the Alameda County Medical Society. The City Council asks citizens to voluntarily wear masks until the ordinance passes into law. Citing a lack of helpful action of State and County health authorities, Health Officer Crosby announces his resignation to take place after the present health crisis.
January 16, 1919
50 cases and one death are reported before noon today. Health Officer Crosby says the number may increase due to physicians increasingly reporting cases during next few days. Nurses are still needed.
January 18, 1919
Health Officer Crosby says he hopes citizens will wear their masks so that police need not intervene, and that masks “seem to be the only preventative so far discovered for the checking of this epidemic.”
January 20, 1919
Health Officer Crosby orders that all funerals for influenza victims be held within 24 hours of death. He attributes the lower number of cases to voluntary mask wearing.
January 21, 1919
The mask ordinance comes up before City Council members but does not pass. Christian Scientists and labor representatives are among those against wearing masks. Mayor Davie strongly protests against ordinance and challenges Health Officer Crosby, who is the only individual present wearing a mask.
January 24, 1919
Only 12 new cases and 6 deaths are reported.
January 28, 1919
Schools are to reopen for new term on Monday (2/3), with most teachers recovered. By noon today there are three new cases and one death.
February 3, 1919
After 8 weeks of closure, schools re-open today for a 20-week semester.
February 10, 1919
There are no cases or deaths reported in the past 24 hours. The Secretary of the Health Board, J.H. Mellon, confirms a statement that the influenza epidemic is “practically at an end.”