Tuesday, August 4, 2020

New York Times: "Mask slackers of 1918"

From the New York Times, an article of interest for Franklin:
"As the influenza pandemic swept across the United States in 1918 and 1919, masks took a role in political and cultural wars. 
The masks were called muzzles, germ shields and dirt traps. They gave people a “pig-like snout.” Some people snipped holes in their masks to smoke cigars. 
Others fastened them to dogs in mockery. Bandits used them to rob banks.
More than a century ago, as the 1918 influenza pandemic raged in the United States, masks of gauze and cheesecloth became the facial front lines in the battle against the virus. But as they have now, the masks also stoked political division. Then, as now, medical authorities urged the wearing of masks to help slow the spread of disease. And then, as now, some people resisted.
In 1918 and 1919, as bars, saloons, restaurants, theaters and schools were closed, masks became a scapegoat, a symbol of government overreach, inspiring protests, petitions and defiant bare-face gatherings. All the while, thousands of Americans were dying in a deadly pandemic.
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Police Court Officials of San Francisco holding a session in the open, as a precaution against the spreading influenza epidemic in late November of 1918.Credit...National Archives
Credit...National Archives

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