Spokane and the Nation: The Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919

Headline:  “Flu Ban Lifted for Members of Gonzaga’s Corps”

Source:  Spokane Daily Chronicle October 28, 1918, page 1

Subject:  Army students at Gonzaga return to university

Synopsis:  Members of Gonzaga University’s Student Army Training Corps were allowed to return to classes.  They had only been allowed to drill during the ban on class work.  Day students would not be allowed to return to classes at the same time.  The numbers of people contracting and recovering from influenza in Spokane were approximately equal at the time.  A summary of the epidemic up to this point is also reviewed.

Notable Quotations: 

• “Dr. Anderson believes that the 2185 influenza cases reported to the department since the start of the epidemic actually represents the number existing at the present time.”

• “Every physician in the city has more influenza patients than he can properly attend…and outside towns are unable to secure necessary medical practitioners.”

“Flu Ban Lifted for Members of Gonzaga’s Corps”

Classroom Work Will Be Resumed by Student Soldiers at Varsity.

            The ban on class work for members of the Student Army Training Corps at Gonzaga university was lifted this morning by order of Dr. J.B. Anderson, city health officer, who pronounced the influenza epidemic at the university under control.

            The student soldiers have been permitted only to drill since the quarantine began, but under today’s order will again assemble for class room work. The ruling does not extend to the day scholars.

Over Two Thousand Cases.

            The number of influenza – afflicted Spokane residents who recover from the disease each day approximately equals the number of cases contracted each day and not reported to the health department, according [to] Dr. J.B. Anderson, health officer.

            Dr. Anderson believes that the 2185 influenza cases reported to the department since the start of the epidemic actually represents the number existing at the present time.

            “In my opinion, for each daily recovery there is one case of the disease contracted which is not reported,” said Dr. Anderson. “Under this circumstance, the number of cases reported must nearly represent the number which exist.

            “The situation remains unchanged. There has been no noticeable increase in the number of cases and neither has there been a decrease.

            "The question of closing all business houses except the grocery stores and places retailing food products is still under discussion, but the health department contemplates no action of the kind at this time, and I have no plans to meet with business men concerned to talk the matter over.

            "I have today issued an order to prevent crowding in passenger elevators and consequent spread of influenza. Until the quarantine is lifted, all elevators must carry only half capacity in number of passengers.

            "An arbitrary maximum number of passengers allowable can not be set, because elevator cars are of different size, but, if a car will hold a normal load of 10 persons, no more than five may be allowed to ride at one time during the quarantine.

            "Persons who have bad colds or the first signs of influenza should go home and go to bed at once. If the health department learns of a person with the disease still at work we will at once send that person home. Employers, as a protection to their own business and the public, should take the same action. One man, a restaurant employe[e], called the health office this morning, saying that he had a light attack of influenza and wanted to know what to do about it. He was told to go home at once and that, if he did not, he would be sent home by the department."

Morning Report, 54.

            The number of influenza cases reported to the health office at 11 o'clock this morning was 54, making a total of 2185 cases since the start of the epidemic. The total at noon Saturday was 2002. During Saturday afternoon and Sunday 129 cases were reported. Deaths from pneumonia, attributable to influenza, officially reported, number 51. There have been eight other deaths from other varieties of pneumonia. Today's report of pneumonia cases numbers 149.

            There are no new cases at Fort George Wright, according to Major Rose, commanding officer. One death occurred at the military post last night and two yesterday, the soldiers dying from pneumonia induced by influenza. Three members of the United States guard detachment detailed to duty in caring for the 220 influenza patients at the post hospital were taken ill from overwork and lack of sleep and are confined to bed.

            Conditions at Gonzaga university, where members of the students' army training corps are under care of Dr. J.H. O'Shea, are improving, no new cases being reported yesterday or this morning.

            One hundred and forty influenza patients are being treated at the city emergency influenza hospital, S112 1/2 Lincoln street, and the place is crowded to capacity. The nurses on duty are working double shifts in some cases and having little sleep or relief. The call for more nurses is more urgent than ever, as the number of hospital cases increases.

            The Red Cross, the National League for Women's Service, the Social Service bureau and numerous other organizations are devoting time to the relief of influenza sufferers at Fort Wright, the emergency hospital, other hospitals and private homes. Every physician in the city has more influenza patients than he can properly attend, according to reports, and outside towns are unable to secure necessary medical practitioners.