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Wednesday, February 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago today in Spokane: Concerns over 1920 flu grow, a year after deadly pandemic

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 28, 2020

The flu was still not as prevalent or deadly as it had been in 1919, but officials were seeing some worrying trends. Another 25 new cases were reported in the morning, bringing the January total to 209. Three deaths from the disease had now been officially recorded, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Jan. 27, 1920. (S-R archives)
The flu was still not as prevalent or deadly as it had been in 1919, but officials were seeing some worrying trends. Another 25 new cases were reported in the morning, bringing the January total to 209. Three deaths from the disease had now been officially recorded, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Jan. 27, 1920. (S-R archives)

City health officials declared the flu to be an epidemic, for the second year in a row.

The flu was still not as prevalent or deadly as it had been in 1919, but officials were seeing some worrying trends. Another 25 new cases were reported in the morning, bringing the January total to 209. Three deaths from the disease had now been officially recorded.

Plans were suspended to build a temporary influenza hospital on the grounds of St. Luke’s Hospital because officials now wanted something available sooner. Plans were advanced for immediately “converting the skating rink building into a flu hospital.”

Meanwhile, flu cases were being reported all around the region.

“Many towns are asking for nurses,” said Gertrude Huntington of the Red Cross in Spokane. “We have received a wire from Pullman stating that there are 250 cases of flu there and asking for nurses. From Pomeroy, we have received a report that an epidemic has covered the city.”

The flu seemed to be spreading rapidly, but not all of the news was bad. The 1920 version of the flu appeared to be “not as virulent,” meaning that the symptoms were milder and not as deadly.

Officials did not believe it was necessary – yet – to institute bans on public gatherings.

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