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Sunday, August 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Spanish influenza arrives in a rush

The Spanish Influenza had arrived in Spokane. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The Spanish Influenza had arrived in Spokane. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The bad news finally arrived: “Influenza Here; Public Warned.”

This was the dreaded Spanish influenza that had swept westward from the East Coast with alarming speed.

The outbreaks had been especially bad in military camps, and that is apparently how it had arrived in Spokane, which had Fort George Wright and several other training centers.

Health officials did not release details about how many cases there were in Spokane or where they had been found.

But they did release this statement: “We have been informed unofficially that of about 1,500 men recently sent to naval stations on Puget Sound, fully 10 present were afflicted with the disease, and we have every reason to believe that it has reached Spokane.”

Officials said they were “powerless to prevent” an outbreak “unless we have the full cooperation of the public.”

Health officials said they might soon have to “prevent all public gatherings, close theaters, churches and Sunday schools, and perhaps even the public schools throughout the state.”

They had not yet done so, but they also added that “the situation is almost certain to become worse.”

This prediction would soon prove to be correct.

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