Spanish Influenza Epidemic: Week 6

Week 6
November 10 – November 16, 1918

Sunday, November 10, 1918 – Wednesday, November 13, 1918

Possibly due to the perceived improvement of the influenza condition in Butte, only one meeting was held from November 10 to November 13. On November 11, 1918, the Board of Health held a short meeting. Secretary Freund reported 53 new cases of influenza and 16 deaths over a two day period and thought that the need for the Red Cross Hospital in the Washington School was no longer necessary. Freund did not anticipate any further spread of the epidemic.

Maybe Secretary Freund missed that day’s headline, or just did not consider its significance because November 11, 1918, would mark the end of World War I and would play a huge role in the health of our city.

Butte Miner, November 11, 1918
The_Butte_Miner_Wed__Nov_13__1918_ (1)
Butte Miner, November 13, 1918

On November 12, 1918, Butte turned up in large crowds to celebrate the end of the War. It was reported by the Butte Miner that thousands gathered on Broadway and Park Streets for the “Liberty Celebration.”

Health officials were concerned the celebration would result in another outbreak of influenza cases. Unfortunately, they were correct.

Thursday, November 14, 1918

Seventy-eight new cases of influenza were reported by Secretary Freund and more were expected to be reported within the coming days. It was determined the Red Cross Hospital would remain open. The board did not want to take drastic measures at this time and decided to keep businesses open until the severity of the outbreak could be determined. The board dismissed to give Secretary Freund time to investigate the conditions of the city. When it reconvened later that night, Freund reported 87 new cases of influenza within the last 24 hours and 30 deaths in the past 4 days. The board was at odds as to what measures should be taken to eliminate influenza in the city.

Friday, November 15, 1918 – Saturday, November 16, 1918

Secretary Freund reported the number of prescriptions for influenza had increased from 10% to 25%. The board stated that they had followed the law to protect the people from the flu and now it was up to the people to prevent the epidemic. There was much discussion held about whether businesses should be forced to close again, with varying opinions.

On November 16, 1918, the Board issued the following orders:

“That the influenza be declared a contagious disease and that a strict quarantine be established by placarding houses wherever the disease is found, that the doctors be required to report promptly the same as in all other contagious diseases and that the influenza quarantine continue in force for a period of at least seven days from the date of the first inception of the diesase.”

“That no child less than 16 years of age shall be permitted to attend or visit any theater, picture show, place of amusement, or any other public places until further orders of the Board.”

“That the schools remain closed until further orders of the board and that the School Board be so notified.”

For the time, business would be able to remain open.



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