Spanish Influenza Epidemic: Week 5

Week 5
November 3 – November 9, 1918

Sunday, November 3, 1918

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Although restrictions were still in place banning the advertisement of sales, stores like the American Mercantile found a clever way around the ban. Butte Miner, November 4, 1918

Conditions of the influenza outbreak continued to improve. Twenty-eight new cases of the flu were reported from 5 doctors and 11 deaths were reported the day prior.

Due to an earlier flu outbreak in the County Jail and County Hospital, the Health Board purchased a limited quantity of flu vaccine to be used as a trial. Results from the trial had been satisfactory. Eighty-seven prisoners at the County Jail and patients at the County Hospital were given the vaccine with positive results.

Monday, November 4, 1918

Twenty-five new cases of influenza and 10 deaths were reported from 7 doctors. A message was received from Dr. Crogswell of the State Board of Health stating the State Chemist was sent to Minnesota to investigate the merits of the flu vaccine to prevent influenza. The chemist reported that although he is very much in favor of its use, the State Board of Health had not endorsed the vaccine.

The Columbia Bar at 259 East Park Street was closed for violating the health order in selling liquor over the bar. The Columbia was ordered closed until further order of the Board of Health.

 

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Butte Miner, November 5, 1918

 

The final order of business of the Board of Health was the opening of the Commercial Department of the Butte Business College. It was decided if the students would agree to the vaccine treatment there was no reason the Business College could not resume.

Tuesday, November 5, 1918 – Wednesday, November 6, 1918

There was a brief increase in the number of flu cases with 40 new cases reported as well as 13 deaths. The board felt it was necessary to issue a warning to the public on the importance of not being careless and continuing to follow the health order. On November 6, 27 additional new cases and 19 deaths were reported. Although there was a slight increase in the number of new cases, health officials still considered conditions in Butte to be improved.

Commissioner Fabian asked how much longer the Health Board thought the businesses would need to be closed before business could be resumed. Secretary Freund stated he could not answer the Commissioner’s question at the time, but from the experience of other cities, he felt it would not be wise to resume business until the outbreak was under control.

Thursday, November 7, 1918

Twenty-four new cases and 13 deaths were reported from 11 doctors. Because the board felt the conditions in Butte were improved enough they made an order to reopen any saloons closed for selling liquor over the bar in violation of the health law. Of course, they were still only allowed to sell bottled goods. The board also reopened the Plunge at Gregson Hot Springs and ordered the churches to be opened Sunday, November 10 with the exception that no public funerals or church services at funerals be allowed.

All board members agreed that if conditions did not change for the worse within the next 24 hours, the board would consider the opening of other places of business.

Friday, November 8, 1918

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Butte Miner, November 8, 1918

Secretary Freund reported 12 new cases of influenza and 11 deaths reported since the last meeting. Freund felt the epidemic was “well under control” and most business could resume if precaution was used. In his words, he felt “there would be no further fear of the epidemic.”

The board felt the further restrictions on business would be unnecessary and the influenza epidemic had terminated. By a unanimous decision the board made the following order:

“That all churches, dance halls, pool rooms, and places of amusement, saloons, and all business of all kind be allowed to resume, and that the opening of the schools be left to the discretion of the School Board.”

Saturday, November 9, 1918

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Butte Miner, November 9, 1918

The Secretary reported 219 cases of influenza for the week ending November 9, 1918, against 749 cases for the previous week.

The opening of the schools was discussed and it was felt the School Board would be compelled to open the schools on Monday, November 11. However, many teachers during the mandatory closure volunteered as nurses and many were exposed to the flu. One board member felt it would be unfair to the children of Butte to ask the teachers to resume work at this time. Yesterday’s order leaving the decision to reopen the schools was rescinded and it was ordered schools would not be allowed to open prior to Monday, November 18, 1918.

 

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