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Butte’s tragic pandemic history

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Town Crier “Briefs from the Region” (2) – 2/22/21

In 1918, when the Spanish Flu was ravaging the U.S., Butte, Montana was a sprawling city of about 100,000 people. With worldwide connections, immigrant workers and the richest copper mine in the world managed by a wealthy east coast trio known as the Copper Kings, Butte was doomed from the start. “To put it simply, the city, a sprawling tribute to America’s potential that prided itself on running mines, bars and brothels 24 hours a day, wouldn’t heed all the warnings to close everything down,” writes Kathleen McLaughlin in Mountain Time. At its peak, the Spanish Flu killed 10 Butte residents per day. McLaughlin writes about the collective trauma the town still endures today, and how it has guided their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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