I'm not kidding I went HAM researching this
So, starting in Sept 2018 San Francisco suffered from Spanish Flu pandemic.
Initial mask wearing was good -- around 80 percent
Residents rushed to entertainment venues after having been denied this communal joy for months. The Mayor himself was fined by his own police chief after going to a show without a mask.
Left to their own devices, most citizens - by one count 90 % - refused to wear masks. Businesses, concerned about Christmas sales, opposed. So did Culinary Workers union
Was the death rate high enough to justify remasking?
Wasn't this just the return of normal seasonal colds?
How much was this due to a public 'scare' and hype?
100s of citizens congregated on Dec 16 to debate a masking order.
On Dec 19, officials voted down a mandatory mask order.
“The dollar sign is exalted above the health sign," sighed the public health officer.
By far the worst day of flu/pneumonia deaths followed on Dec 30
A representative of organized labor relented: "It is of no time to quibble over the worth of the mask. It is the best thing we have found to date, and if you have anything better, for God's sake, give it to us."
Citizens were arrested/fined for not having masks on, but widespread disobedience of the order continue & large numbers of citizens refused to wear masks.
Over 2,000 people attended an event formed by San Franciscans called themselves 'THE ANTI-MASK LEAGUE,' denouncing the mandatory masking ordinance
The gathering was of "public spirited citizens, skeptical physicians and fanatics," writes historian Crosby
Chaos broke out until someone shouted, "I rented this hall and now I'm going to turn out the lights." (Mak note: lol)
Think of him as the 1919 Dr. Fauci.
Ignored by those who didn't want to believe the data, threatened with violence, Hassler was conscientious and performed his job with distinction
So we may not know how many people, if any, became sick due to this congregation
But safe to say it was not helpful during pandemic
This continued until the epidemic faded, a signal that the mask ordinance had helped wipe out the Spanish Flu in San Francisco
People continued to gripe about the masking even after the pandemic had been stalled by it
"Rarely has the evidence in support of a scientific hypothesis been more overwhelming and more deceiving," writes historian Crosby
673 per 100,000 people died during the pandemic due to influenza and pneumonia, per U of Michigan.
50K cases total and 3,500 were killed, per Crosby.
We learn through this episode that various groups of Americans have been pushing back against public health measures for more than a hundred years -- and for similar reasons!!
a portion of the population resistant to the measures; a business community crying out for relief; a second wave after an initial loosening; threats to public health officials
I started by drafting a few tweets and then spent an hour and a half researching it last night. One thing led to another...
The University of Michigan's Influenza Encyclopedia
The San Francisco Chronicle’s archives
America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918 by Alfred W. Crosby
American Pandemic by Nancy Bristow