Mask Mandates during the Spanish Flu and COVID-19

ElyaDatabase ID Number: M174

Creator: Nicole Babkowski ’22 Public Health

The COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020 was the first infectious disease to test the nation’s public health response since the influenza virus outbreak of 1918. The influenza virus–also known as the Spanish Flu–hit the United States in three consecutive waves; the second wave was extremely detrimental to the United States civilian population. The COVID-19 pandemic ravaged across the United States, where it has the highest case prevalence in the world. The enforcement of a mask mandate is one public health containment method utilized during both the Spanish Flu and COVID-19. This map focuses on the mask mandates in the United States between the Spanish Flu and COVID-19 pandemics (with the exception of Alaska, USVI, and Hawaii). The areas with enforced mask mandates during the Spanish Flu are marked with a green star on the map. It is important to note that these green stars depict cities where mask mandates were enforced; most public health containment methods were restricted to city measures rather than statewide measures. Furthermore, during the Spanish Flu, many states in the Northeast followed mask recommendations despite the absence of a mask mandate in their respective area. The areas with enforced mask mandates during COVID-19 are outlined in pink. Note these mask mandates are statewide and far more prevalent than during the Spanish Flu. During the Spanish Flu, San Francisco especially was considered a role model state for public health containment methods, while during COVID-19, New York served as a role model.

Cite This Work :

Nicole Babkowski, “Mask Mandates during the Spanish Flu and COVID-19.” Scale: 1:70,000. In Elya J. Zhang, ed., Mapping History Series. <> (accessed May 27, 2022).

Leave a Reply

Blog at