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

Headline: “Less Than Fifty New Flu Cases”

Source: Spokane Daily Chronicle, November 20, 1918, p. 2

Subject: Epidemic improving, but not gone

Synopsis: Only 27 new cases of influenza had been reported in Spokane the previous day. There were no new cases of pneumonia. Up to this point in the epidemic, 5,655 people had been infected with influenza, and 201 had died. Dr. J.B. Anderson, Spokane’s health officer, expresses optimism that the epidemic is decreasing, and that the worst is over. Schools are scheduled to reopen the following Monday.

Notable Quotations:

• “The total number of cases reported now stands at 5655. Deaths number 201.”

• Dr. Anderson: “‘Every indication is that the decrease [in numbers of cases] will continue.’”

• Observations: We know that, ultimately, over 16,000 people in Spokane contracted the illness, and more than 600 died. The numbers so far on November 20 are much lower than that. The worst was yet to come.

“Less Than Fifty New Flu Cases”

Decrease in Disease Shown in Spokane – Health Officer Likes Prospects.

            Influenza is still on the decrease in Spokane. But 27 new cases were reported to the health department up to noon today and no new cases of pneumonia. The total number of cases reported now stands at 5655. Deaths number 201.

            “The epidemic is lessening rapidly,” said Health Officer J.B. Anderson this morning. “Every indication is that the decrease will continue. The number of cases is less, the influenza hospital is discharging many more patients than it receives and on the whole the situation is good. I can not tell as yet when the ban on dances will be removed. The schools will open Monday, as previously announced. Theater managers are cooperating with the health department in the enforcement of influenza regulations at the theaters.”