Spanish Influenza Epidemic: Week 4

Week 4
October 27 – November 2, 1918

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Local theatres took advantage of the mandatory closure by redecorating and cleaning their businesses. Butte Miner, October 28, 1918

Sunday, October 27, 1918 – Tuesday, October 29, 1918

There are no recorded Board of Health minutes for October 27 through the 29th, but the newspapers reported heavily on the outbreak. The Butte Miner reported the flu may have reached its height. Although there was a slight increase in deaths reported, it was thought these were “old cases,” or cases that had been ongoing over the course of the epidemic. The health authorities firmly believed the flu could be stamped out over the course of 10 days if the community continued to cooperate with the quarantine.

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Soldiers in Butte were fighting their own war against the flu, helping in the hospital kitchens and sick rooms, while their brothers overseas were fighting the war. Butte Miner, October 29, 1918

By October 29, the newspapers had reported 23 new deaths and 129 new cases of the flu, bringing the total deaths to date to 241 and total cases to date to 2,933. Only 12 doctors reported their numbers. The health authorities issued a warning regarding physicians not reporting flu cases in a timely manner, “We are not going to stand for their carelessness any longer. We have given them a chance to make good and they have failed, and now we are going to make them obey the law.” The authorities threatened any physician who did not report by the end of the night would face prosecution.

It seems the threat of prosecution by the health authorities worked because 21 doctors reported their flu cases by October 30. Twenty-two more deaths were reported as well as 245 new cases. Unlike the health board, doctors of Butte did not feel influenza cases were on the decrease.

Wednesday, October 30, 1918

Twenty-three additional deaths occurred on October 30, but the Board of Health was still adamant that the flu situation was improving because only 136 new cases were reported by 21 physicians. As a cautionary measure, the public library was closed so the germ would not be carried from home to home on the library books.

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Not a single Butte hotel had to report any deaths resulting from the flu, claiming it was because of their attention to “every detail of the requirements of the health board.” Butte Miner, October 31, 1918

Thursday, October 31, 1918

The number of deaths reported on October 31 was 23 and 136 new cases were reported from 12 doctors. The board discussed the care of children whose parents were sick and unable to care for them. The board decided they would find a way to provide for the children during the epidemic, but did not go into detail as to what those measures would be.

The Butte Miner reported Halloween of 1918 as a quiet one and while there was still the usual “soaping, tick-tacking, and general demolishing,” overall the night was tame. The paper even suggested this was a benefit of the flu–providing a “restful night for the healthful.”

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Butte Miner, November 1, 1918

Friday, November 1, 1918 – Saturday, November 2, 1918

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Butte Miner, November 3, 1918

By November 1, it seemed the pandemic may soon be over. Only 12 deaths and 95 new cases were reported by physicians–the lowest since the outbreak began. On November 2, the number decreased even more–only 11 deaths reported and 33 new cases.

The Butte Miner reported the “Flu Ban” may be lifted within ten days if conditions continued to improve, although health authorities for the meantime were taking every precaution to ensure the outbreak did not gain momentum again.

 

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