Face Mask · Flu

Mask Mandates In US History

Mask Mandates In US History – The Mask Mandate of 2020 is not the first time the US has had a mask mandate. One such pandemic was the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919.

Mask Mandates In US History

In 1918, just a little over 100 years ago, there was a mask mandate throughout the United States. It was just after World War I (WWI). A huge influenza pandemic happened in 1918 to 1919. It was reported as one of the most deadly flu outbreaks, known as the Spanish Flu or even 1918 H1N1.

Mask Mandates In US History - The Mask Mandate of 2020 is not the first time the US has had a mask mandate.  - Rail commuters wearing white protective masks, one with the additional message “wear a mask or go to jail,” during the 1918 influenza pandemic in California.Credit...Vintage Space/Alamy
Rail commuters wearing white protective masks, one with the additional message “wear a mask or go to jail,” during the 1918 influenza pandemic in California.Credit…Vintage Space/Alamy

That pandemic killed up to 50 million people worldwide! With reports of around 675,000 people killed in the United States alone.

Just like in 2020, the government rolled out rules, closing schools, places of public amusement and requesting people to wear masks in public. They even issued “no-spitting” ordinances back then. Even some no sneezing ordinances too.

It was said, then most people complied with it. Today, we have mixed emotions about it. They even imposed fines then to those not in compliant of wearing a face mask. Then the penalty for violators was $5 to $10, or 10 days’ imprisonment. November 9, 1918 around 1,000 people were arrested in San Fransisco.

Where is your mask?

“Where is your mask?” Judge Mathew Brady asked offenders at the Hall of Justice, where sessions dragged into night. Some gave fake names, said they just wanted to light a cigar or that they hated following laws.

Jail terms of 8 hours to 10 days were given out. Those who could not pay $5 were jailed for 48 hours.

In the image above, you can see one face mask wearing wearing a sign that stated wear a mask or go to jail.

Even then some of the same fears came about. Some like people won’t come to my business if I require mask or not require mask. It was just to put fear into people. However, communities that implemented stronger health measures overall fared better than those that didn’t.

The Mask Slackers of 1918

The Mask Slackers of 1918. 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.

The Mask Slacker was shot. Known as James Wisser, a blacksmith. Henry D. Miller, a health inspector, led him to the drugstore to buy a mask. He then struck him with a sack of silver dollars and knocked him to the ground, where he fired four times with a revolver. However, Wisser was only severely injured. Wisser was charged with disturbing the peace, resisting an officer and assault. While Miller was charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

‘To Mask or Not to Mask’

Headlines from newspapers in Chicago.Credit...Chicago History Museum/Getty Images
Headlines from newspapers in Chicago.Credit…Chicago History Museum/Getty Images

Anti-Mask League

Even an Anti-Mask League and Anti-Mask Meetings popped up then.

I am sure just like today, they had arguments on both sides on wearing them or not wearing. Such as one I saw at a Rural King. These two men were verbally yelling at each other in the store. Then, when I went to my car, they both were outside, still yelling. One was for wearing them, the other was against.

Crowded conditions and the movement of troops during World War I likely contributed to the spread of the 1918 virus around the world. (Photo credit: www.museumsyndicate.com/item.php?item=56784#)
Crowded conditions and the movement of troops during World War I likely contributed to the spread of the 1918 virus around the world. (Photo credit: www.museumsyndicate.com/item.php?item=56784#)

Keep in mind Influenza vaccines did not exist at the time, and even antibiotics had not been developed yet during that pandemic. The CDC addds, for example, penicillin was not discovered until 1928.

The Face Mask Repeal occurred February 1, 1919. However, it was reported that the Spanish Flu Pandemic then lasted for two years.

So 2020, was not the first time for any Mask Mandates In US History! I do not believe 2020 will be the last mask mandate either. I am sure there will be more to come in the future, unless Jesus comes back before then.

Sources:

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