Friday, October 12, 2018

100 Years Ago: No School, No Dance, No Movies - Influenza's Damper on Public Space and Association

A very early ad about it, October 12th, 1918
In early October, influenza came to Salem mainly by the rail corridor from the larger cities and ports on the coast. On October 12th, exactly 100 years ago, Salem ordered its first closures and formal public health actions.

Northern California, October 7, 1918

In Seattle, October 7th, 1918

In Tacoma, October 8th, 1918

Not yet here, October 9th, 1918
Its virulence and seriousness was not fully grasped.

Nothing to see, move along, October 10th, 1918

Quackery and conspiracy? Everything is normal...
 October 10th, 1918

Still nothing to see, October 11th, 1918
But at the same time, the prospect of closure got serious. Maybe these side-by-side pieces on the 11th are something of a cusp.

Closure possible, October 11th, 1918

Still spreading, October 12th, 1918

Closure order finally, October 12th, 1918
But by October 12th, an order against gatherings and for public closures finally came down. There did not yet seem to be a noticeable increase in fatality yet, and it is hard to know how the number of "mild" cases compared to previous seasons and versions of the flu.
By order of the state board of health, Salem will be a closed town beginning at 6 o'clock this evening, and it will remain closed until otherwise ordered by the state board of health.

This includes of course the closing of moving picture theaters. There will be none tonight. Schools will close and churches also. In fact, the orders include dances and public gatherings of any kind whatsoever.

The order will be put into effect through a proclamation of Mayor Walter K. Keyes. The mayor received a telegram this morning from the slate board of health insisting that the closing order be put into effect at once as it was thought to be dangerous for people to congregate at movies this evening or in the churches tomorrow.

Dr. O. B. Miles, city health officer said this afternoon that but a few cases had been reported in the city and these were mild ones. In order to keep fully informed on the situation, Dr. Miles asks all physicians to report daily should any cases develop.

The closing order means that until the state board of health deems it desirable to rescind the order that beginning with 6 o'clock this evening, there will be no moving picture theaters open, no churches in session, no schools, no dances, no lodge sessions and no anything that will bring people together in crowds....
Even with these measures, it was still the war that dominated headlines. Many were dying there, and no one was dying yet in Salem from this flu.

October 12th, 1918

Update, March 29th, 2020

As we are in the midst of our own global pandemic, the paper is now visiting the 1918 pandemic, and they highlight the first apparent instance in the greater Salem area, at Chemawa.

Today's paper highlights a note about
Chemawa on October 9th

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Added a note from the sunday paper today as we grapple with our own pandemic.