13. The business community largely opposed shutdowns
Across the nation in 1918, Americans relied on bakers for their daily bread, butchers for meat, and grocers for their food needs. Home refrigeration was scarce and primitive. There existed relatively little entertainments within the home compared to a later day. Limited knowledge of how contagion spread dominated, with the widespread belief that the illness was carried through the air, rather than it also being spread by contact with surfaces. The belief led the business community to push for protection through wearing masks, themselves primitive and of little use. The business communities found allies in the general public, which did not want to stay at home.
In communities where saloons and taverns were closed, men went to them anyway, hidden in backrooms or simply behind closed and locked doors. Barbers continued to give haircuts and shaves, at a time when sterilizing razors and scissors between customers was unknown. Bakers and butchers continued to serve customers using unwashed hands. People huddled together on crowded conveyances, carrying the flu to previously uninfected areas. Nurses visited hundreds of sick per day, then stopped at businesses on their way home to pick up what they needed. In cities where a crackdown on businesses violating closure orders occurred, police forces found their ranks depleted by officers contracting the virus as they attempted to force compliance.