From the Morning Press, 24 August 1918, just before the Spanish influenza epidemic began to rage on the west coast of America:
DR. POTTER WARNS PUBLIC AGAINST SPAIN’S INFLUENZA
That Spanish influenza, a scourge which has attacked the great armies Europe, is bound to make its presence felt in the United States, was a prediction of Dr Nathaniel Bowditch Potter, who delivered an interesting talk on “Another War Duty and the Prevention of Infection,” at the noon luncheon of the Rotary club yesterday, at the Arlington hotel.
“What is our own duty to protect our families from this severe scourge in case it gets here, as it is bound to do?”’ asked Dr. Potter, continuing, he said in part:
“It seems to me that our duty in this war is to see that every individual is kept well; every man we need, every woman we need, and there are an awful lot of children we need; certainly the next generation will need every one of them to be healthy and well. The war is already taking an enormous percentage of our nurses; we can’t afford to get sick for there are no doctors to take care of us.
“Now, concerning what we adopted out at our little clinic at the Cottage hospital. We use a face mask, which is composed of a little piece wire gauze shaped with a piece of ordinary adhesive tape to prevent scratching and lined with a detachable piece of gauze and clamped with one of those things that one clamps ordinary paper with, and that is all there is to it. Now this seems simple enough, but that will prevent most of the contact infections such as grippe colds, or sore throats or diphtheria or scarlet fever and what not. Now it looks silly to see a patient lying in bed with one on.
Approve Use of Mask
When I went to San Francisco and gave a talk on one of these diseases and we agreed before the academy of medicine of California to adopt the face mask, the last picture 1 showed on the screen was a patient laying in bed with one of these on and all the doctors around the patient were laughing. That was in January, and in February, March, April, May and June there were five prominent articles in the American Medical Association in which physicians said they had adopted this simple device and prevented epidemics … army disease by the simple method of using this mask. The diseases which the army dread today are the disease which are carried by talking, coughing and by sneezing, just the ordinary contact between two individuals, but you can wear a mask and thus prevent most of the danger.
Everyone of you who has at home a child, as well as your cooks and other household servants should wear a mask until your cold is over. There is no other way and unless it is started soon the disease, grippe, will seize you in its clutches, mark my words, before many months are over and the only reason why it is so slow in my judgment is that the traffic this way has been very slow and very light. If this meets with your approval, if you are interested, let us see what we can do here in Santa Barbara, as an ideal community, toward preventing what, after all, is preventable and toward diminishing the inefficiency of anyone who can do any little bit to help win this terrible struggle.”