27 March 2020

SLC has a long history with quarantining its residents

Quarantine Sign, ca 1910, Utah State Board of Health.
Image from Utah State University, Mendon Collection via MWDL

SLC has a long history with quarantining its residents. 

The first ordinance was formalized on March 12, 1850: Before emigrants could enter the Salt Lake Valley they needed to pass through a quarantine station at the mouth of Emigration Canyon to isolate new arrivals who were ill. 

Later an isolation hospital, commonly known as the Pest House, was constructed in this same area; this area is now the Bonneville Golf Course.

By 1871 the “Yellow Flag” rule had been formally established into law: "A yellow flag should be displayed conspicuously on a quarantined residence giving notices that the premises are infected and prohibiting entry to the premises until all danger from infection have ceased and the area disinfected."

In 1910 quarantine rules continued to be refined and the yellow flag had been replaced with a yellow warning sign. New rules were also issued by the Salt Lake Board of Health, a selection of which are below:
  1. Sick room should be isolated at the top of the house, sunny, freely ventilated. 
  2. Cover the doorway with a sheet and keep moist with some disinfectant such as 1 to 1,000 solution of bichloride of mercury. 
  3. All bed linen, garments, towels, etc used by the patient should be immersed in carbolic acid solution, 4 oz to 1 gallon of water, for 1 hr and subsequently boiled, aired and sun dried. 
  4. Remains of food should be burned. 
  5. All discharge from the nose, throat, eyes, and ears should be received in a 2% solution of Lysol or carbolic acid and stand for 1 hr before being thrown into the toilet. 
  6. Groceries, milk, and other supplies must be left at the door. 
  7. Do not kiss the patient. 
  8. Do not allow your dog or cat to run at large. Cats and dogs from houses under quarantine found running at large will be taken to the city crematory and killed.
  9. After the quarantine period burn all toys, books, or other articles used by the patient. 
  10. All fumigation and disinfection will be done by the officers of the board of health only.
Sources: Deseret News 05 Aug 1871 p2; Deseret News 19 April 1910 p8; The History of Emigration Canyon by Cynthia Furse and Jeffrey Carlstrom

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