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News & Issues > Germies and Cooties

Germies and Cooties

I was curious about the 1918 flu and found some interesting notes.

In 1918, records on Minneapolis and St. Paul show both cities were following a kind of haphazard strategy of closure of public places and other rules, just like we’re seeing now. It was as difficult to persuade the city government to work together then as now.

At a point, each city was finally induced to issue closing orders for public places, charging heavy fines and sending police to enforce the rules. In St. Paul, when the full city order was made to close all public places and gatherings, the rate of new cases dropped dramatically within 10 days. Soon they were able to reopen shops, as a result. But that seemed to be undone in part by other actions, some good actions taken too late. One effective thing that they were doing was getting information about the flu out by using Boy Scouts, teachers, and postal workers to carry educational posters and fliers to shops, people’s doors, and places of work.

People in that time also struggled about masks, not having enough and they had to be boiled each day after wearing. Hotels were told to stop running their elevators, which were seen as places of dangerous proximity and stagnant air.

But as a result of the Spanish flu, St. Paul enacted laws that restaurants and bars had to sterilize their dishes, and roller-towels were banned in public bathrooms. They also put an end to the horrid shared drinking cup found in public bathrooms.

Talking about germs used to be interesting among my family, because 4 of us worked in health care in some capacity.
I hope they change the protocol about depending upon sanitizer instead of soap-and-water handwashing, in hospitals. I think they relying on it way too much.

You do have to watch your hands and what you're handling. One of my younger sisters used to tell me about infection studies they ran in her hospital, and how they found the nursing assistants were causing a lot of germ spread because -- as they went room to room taking vitals, they'd rest the plastic battery pack of their electric thermometers on the patient's bed.

A big peeve with me in a doctor's office is if I see the staff with big fake fingernails. They should be banned as infection-causers. If you wear artificial fingernails or simply nail polish, and you go for a checkup, the pulse oximeter they clip to your fingertip is not so accurate through nail polish. And that thing is needed to check blood oxidation, a major thing with this corona virus.

posted on Mar 18, 2020 4:38 AM ()


I'm reminded of the saying, "Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it."
comment by tealstar on Mar 19, 2020 11:43 AM ()
Yes, exactly. A century ago, and we haven't learned.
reply by drmaus on Mar 19, 2020 12:10 PM ()
"....the horrid shared drinking cup... " That is the most disgusting thing I've seen all day. No, all year so far.
comment by jjoohhnn on Mar 18, 2020 4:22 PM ()
I read twelve grosser things before breakfast.
reply by drmaus on Mar 19, 2020 12:11 PM ()

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