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Why Gauze Masks ‘Failed’ in 1918 — And What We Can Do Better

A look at the mistakes Americans made while wearing homemade cloth masks to protect against the Spanish flu, according to the secretary of the California State Board of Health in 1918

An American Red Cross worker wears a gauze mask during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. Photo: Paul Thompson/FPG/Stringer/Getty Images

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Adrien Burch, PhD

Adrien Burch, PhD

Happily sifting through academic research so you don’t have to. Microbiologist, educator, entrepreneur, writer. (Yale, UC Berkeley)