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Tuesday, August 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Spanish influenza pushes death rate to record high

 (Spokesman-Review archives)
(Spokesman-Review archives)

The final 1918 statistics were in, and the results were no surprise: Spokane had the highest death rate in its history, because of the Spanish flu epidemic.

A total of 1,532 death were reported in the city, up from 1,164 in 1917. At least 424 of the 1918 deaths were flu deaths, mostly recorded in October, November and December.

Despite this, the birth rate of 2,146 still outpaced the death rate, probably reflecting the fact that Spokane had a relatively young population.

On another optimistic note, the Spokane Daily Chronicle announced the first birth of 1919: A boy born at 8 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

From the celebration beat: Spokane’s New Year’s Eve celebrations were relatively subdued. The partial ban on public gatherings was still in effect for one more day.

“Citizens for the most part celebrated their New Year’s Eve in the theaters, with an occasional visit from a health inspector or police officer to make sure there was no community singing, horn-blowing or over-seating in violation of the quarantine restrictions,” reported The Spokesman-Review.

Instead of singing “Auld Lang Syne,” the revelers clapped along to the tune on an organ.

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