Wednesday, December 2, 2020

History lessons Dr. Ron Loge donned a reproduction 16th century mask used by doctors in Europe when treating plague (Black Death) patients during a recent community forum on COVID-19. The story, from a 1918 edition of the Dillon Tribune, discusses local reaction to what was commonly referred to as the Spanish Flu. J.P. Plutt photo

Dillon Tribune, October 25, 1918

Dillon is fighting the influenza epidemic by enforcing the strictest quarantine. The number of authentic cases at present is 85. Very few of the cases have proven to be of the more severe type, the majority yielding readily to treatment and careful nursing.

A public meeting of the city council, board of health and citizens was held at the city hall last Saturday night to talk over the situation and come to a decision as to the closing of schools, etc.

Dr. Walker, city health officer, explained the situation and recommended that the schools, churches, theatre, club, pool rooms be closed at once; that gatherings of all kinds be discontinued; that chairs and seats be removed from hotel lobbies, saloons, stores and other places where people are in the habit of congregating. Also it was recommended that the streets be heavily sprinkled within the city limits during the epidemic.

In the opinion of those present at the meeting action should be taken at once. The church people were notified Saturday night and there were no services of any kind beginning Sunday morning.

At an early hour Sunday morning the street sprinklers were started and the streets have been kept wet ever since; This keeps the dust down and prevents the germs from flying about.

The order against the assembling of crowds in saloons or other places is being strictly enforced. Signs have been put up in every business place urging the patrons to transact their business quickly and then “move on.” Most people have taken the orders of the health officer in good next and are willing to do everything they can to help stamp out the epidemic. The health officer has the backing of the police department and those inclined to ignore the rules have the matter called to their attention in a forcible manner. It is no time for foolishness. The city officials are in dead earnest in the matter and will see that everything possible is done to check the spread of the disease.

The high school and the public school were dismissed at roll-call Monday morning. The reason for closing was explained to the pupils and an idea given as to the time the schools would be closed. Many of the high school students live out of town and they made immediate arrangements to go to their homes.

It was decided to place the Normal college in quarantine and keep running, but a case of influenza developing Monday morning, the plan was given up and school was dismissed at noon. Many of the students left for home the same afternoon and more left the following day. A very few of them remain at the dormitories.

The congregating of children or adults on the streets or anywhere else has been checked to a remarkable degree. The streets are practically deserted except for a few people who are out on errands.

There are many cases of hard colds in town but the number of genuine cases of influenza is much smaller than in most towns of equal population that are afflicted with the epidemic.

Two of the local physicians being sick, calls for increased efforts on the part of the remaining ones, so that people should be considerate enough not to make unnecessary demands upon them.

All homes having influenza are placed in quarantine and signs put up. The observance of the necessary regulations by the inmates of quarantined homes will help materially in stopping the spread of the disease. The co-operation of everyone is desired and expected.

Medical authorities estimate the run of the epidemic at from 30 to 40 days.

Most of the cases of influenza thus far are mild. Only one death has taken place and that was in Wisdom.

The situation, Dr. Walker states, seems to be well in hand and the quarantine orders are being strictly enforced.

There were 18 or 20 new cases yesterday, the severity of which cannot be determined until later.

The number of cases outside of the city is not known.