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This Day in Georgia History

October 16, 1918

Fair Patrons Required to Wear Flu Masks

The Southeastern Fair, held in October each year at the Lakewood Fairgrounds south of Atlanta, was a popular fall tradition. The 1918 fair was underway but was threatened with closure because of the Spanish influenza epidemic. On this day, the Atlanta Constitution reported that the Red Cross was calling for local volunteers to construct 40,000 flu masks for patrons at the Southeastern Fair. Rather than order the fair closed, Georgia’s State Board of Health allowed it to stay open but required fair patrons to wear flu masks to attend the fair. The Red Cross also announced it was immediately opening a school of nursing in Atlanta, to teach elementary hygiene and home nursing to people to help with home emergencies arising from the flu epidemic. Meanwhile Gov. Hugh Dorsey called for a meeting of the State Board of Health to discuss statewide preventative measures. Still, Atlanta had not been hit by the epidemic as badly as most cities its size. Only 500 new cases had been reported in the previous week, most of them mild.