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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Glimmer of hope a thin cover on city’s fear as Spanish flu continues to spread

The Spanish flu claimed more lives, including a former member of the the Chronicle’s editorial staff. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The Spanish flu claimed more lives, including a former member of the the Chronicle’s editorial staff. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Spokane health authorities were clearly grasping for any good news they could find about the Spanish flu epidemic.

They reported 47 new cases – including four cases of flu-induced pneumonia – but they stressed that this was “the smallest number of new cases reported on any day since the disease began its spread here.”

This gave a glimmer of hope that the epidemic was on the wane. It was not.

The epidemic hit home at the Spokane Daily Chronicle, which reported on its front page that Chester L. Muller, a former member of its editorial staff, died of the flu in an Army hospital in Chicago.

Mulller had enlisted in the Army after the war started and rose to the rank of lieutenant in the quartermaster corps.

In Spokane, 150 men were afflicted with the flu at the hospital at Fort George Wright. The officer in charge of the hospital said, “In spite of the fact that a number of our valuable men are incapacitated, we are getting along all right without serious discomfort.”

Doctors and nurses were especially vulnerable to contagion. Three more Spokane doctors were confined to their homes: Dr. E.P. Condon, Dr. Alex R. Lundgren and Dr. W.T. Schwabland.

The ban on schools, churches, theaters, clubs and all other public gatherings had serious repercussions. The schools were urging students to work on their lessons at home, but they had now been out nearly two weeks. The state school superintendent announced that teachers would still be paid, however.

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