Differing Opinions

By Kallin Glauser

Differing opinions on important issues have always existed. During the Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918, Utah experienced its own set of differing opinions which drastically affected the ways that the community responded to the pandemic. Two Utah Health Commissioners, Dr. Samuel G. Paul and Dr. T. B. Beatty, were at the forefront of the pandemic response. As we study the different statements given by these two individuals there is a clear divergence in how they perceived the severity of the pandemic, and what safety measures they deemed most effective. Looking at these public health statements from a hundred years ago sheds light on an all too familiar pattern; differing opinions when responding to a global pandemic. 

On the banning of public gatherings

Dr. Samuel G. Paul

“The general closing order is mere hysteria. There is no occasion whatever for closing down any business, and certainly no good reason whatever for closing the public schools.”

Dr. T. B. Beatty

“The State Board of Health has issued an order placing a ban upon all public gatherings, including churches, schools, theatres and motion picture houses in Salt Lake City, where the disease has attained a footing and in every section of the states in which the disease appears.”
“The order does not allow the interpretation that public gatherings should be prohibited after a number of cases have been reported, but upon the appearance of the disease.”


On remedies for the flu

Dr. Samuel G. Paul

"Get outside in the fresh air and sunshine all possible. Sleep with plenty of coverings to keep warm but throw the windows open wide in the bedrooms. Fresh air, fresh air, fresh air--- that is the prime preventive and deadly foe of infleunza."

Dr. T. B. Beatty

"No person need fear influenza if the protective gauze mask is worn. The mask need not fit tightly in order to function, but could simply drape over the nose and mouth."


Dr. Paul and Dr. Beatty agreed on some things: Everyone had a part to play in reducing the spread of the Spanish Influenza


Dr. Samuel G. Paul

"The influenza is a highly contagious and communicable disease, but it is most absolutely prevented by a little care on the part of all."

 Dr. T. B Beatty

“The duration of the influenza situation in Utah and Salt Lake will depend on the observance of precautionary methods on the part of every citizen.”


Additional Reading

Below are links to select Utah newspaper articles mentioning the Utah state health commissioners during the 1918 flu pandemic.

Dr. T. B. Beatty

Health Rules May be Made Much Stricter, Salt Lake Herald-Republican, 1918-02-28 

State Board of Health Issues Drastic Order Effective Immediatel, Salt Lake Telegram, 1918-10-09

350 Residents of Salt Lake Flu Victims, Salt Lake Telegram, 1918-10-10 

Individual Must Aid If Malady is Curbed, Salt Lake Herald-Republican, 1918-10-11

Physicians Cry down Wearing of Masks, Salt Lake Herald-Republican, 1918-11-30

Dr. Samuel G. Paul

Influenza is Spreading; 40 More Victim, Salt Lake Herald-Republican, 1918-10-06 

Twenty Thousand Are down with 'Flu in Utah, Ogden Daily Standard, 1918-10-24

Plan Drastic Step to Conquer 'Flu', Salt Lake Tribune, 1918-11-21 

Board Protests School Closing, Salt Lake Tribune, 1918-12-11

Health Boards Lift Influenza Ban: Salt Lake Churches to Open Tomorrow, Salt Lake Tribune, 1918-12-07


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