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Max C. Starkloff was a physician and surgeon who was the Health Commissioner of St. Louis, Missouri in 1895-1903 and 1911-1933. He is notable for his quick and sustained action during the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic. Instead of downplaying the pandemic like many of the other major cities at the time did, Starkloff understood the seriousness of the situation. Within just two days of confirmed flu cases, extreme public health policies were put into effect which prohibited large social gatherings closed schools, bars, religious institutions, and other public meetings.
Of course, this was met with backlash as the people of St. Louis thought this was an overreaction and people became furious as the mitigation policies went on for months. Regardless of the social pressure, Starkloff remained firm in the belief that social distancing would save lives. In the end, St. Louis was a model city as it had the lowest mortality rate of any major US city. His heroic efforts to remain swift and firm to combat the influenza is considered one of the early instances of modern medicine social distancing.
bioMérieux Connection Editors (2018, October 25). How public health policies saved citizens in St. Louis during the 1918 flu pandemic. bioMérieux Connection. https://www.biomerieuxconnection.com/2018/10/25/how-public-health-policies-saved-citizens-in-st-louis-during-the-1918-flu-pandemic/