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EpidemicsHate and Compassion from the Plague of Athens to AIDS$
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Samuel K. Cohn, Jr.

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198819660

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198819660.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 December 2020

The Great Influenza

The Great Influenza

Quarantine and Blame

(p.425) 20 The Great Influenza

Samuel K. Cohn, Jr.

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines evidence principally from the US that the Great Influenza provoked profiteering by landlords, undertakers, vendors of fruit, pharmacists, and doctors, but shows that such complaints were rare and confined mostly to large cities on the East Coast. It then investigates anti-social advice and repressive decrees on the part of municipalities, backed by advice from the US Surgeon General and prominent physicians attacking ‘spitters, coughers, and sneezers’, which included state and municipal ordinances against kissing and even ‘big talkers’. It then surveys legislation on compulsory and recommended mask wearing. Yet this chapter finds no protest or collective violence against the diseased victims or any other ‘others’ suspected of disseminating the virus. Despite physicians’ and lawmakers’ encouragement of anti-social behaviour, mass volunteerism and abnegation instead unfolded to an extent never before witnessed in the world history of disease.

Keywords:   influenza, pandemic, profiteering, spitting, coughing, kissing, mask legislation, volunteerism, abnegation, historical contexts

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