Monday, September 30 started off much the same as previous days at Camp Travis, Texas, only five miles from downtown San Antonio – hot and dusty. Soon, however, it had become clear that September 30 was going to be markedly different; 51 of the camp’s 34,127 men fell sick with influenza that day. Anticipating far more patients than these, the camp’s medical officers departed from their normal routine and spent the afternoon supervising crews of enlistees as they cleaned up and outfitted nine buildings as emergency hospitals, with an eye for future expansion if necessary. Three days later, as the number of cases at the camp continued to increase, Brigadier General George H. Estes ordered the strict quarantine of Camp Travis. Neither soldiers nor civilian contractors working at the two installations were allowed to leave, and no one was allowed to enter the camp except on official business.1
Meanwhile, in San Antonio, city health officer Dr. William Anthony King believed that there was little over which to worry. The affliction making the rounds, he announced, was nothing more than ordinary grippe, though perhaps more easily spread than past versions. Still, there were already several hundred cases of influenza reported in the city. Fort Sam Houston, within city limits, had 234 cases, and the Red Cross nurses’ quarters there was full of sick nurses unable to care for soldiers. King decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Rather than take chances, King asked owners and managers of public entertainment venues to keep their ventilation systems running and to bar entry of anyone exhibiting symptoms of illness. He would, King added, appoint deputies to enforce these measures if necessary.2
Epidemic conditions across Texas were quickly growing worse. On October 7, United States Surgeon General Rupert Blue issued a circular to state authorities urging them to consider public gathering bans and closure orders if epidemic conditions in their regions warranted it. Following on that advice, as well as that of Texas Health Officer W. B. Collins, Acting Governor Reinzi Johnston issued his own statement to local health officers across the state to “give their careful consideration the recommendation of the Federal and State Health authorities with a view to discontinue public assemblages, closing public schools and places of public amusement in localities where the prevalence and severity of this disease renders such a course of action necessary and advisable.”3
In San Antonio, King quickly called for a meeting with city and local military officials to discuss the influenza situation. At Camp Travis and Fort Sam Houston, the epidemics were severe but appeared to be peaking. Each camp was under quarantine to reduce the chances of spreading influenza to the local civilian population. In the city, physicians were reporting an average of one hundred or so cases daily, but thus far there had been no civilian deaths. Influenza was not a reportable disease in Texas, however, and health authorities had to rely on voluntary reporting of physicians. After consideration, King declined to impose bans on public gatherings, recommending instead that people avoid crowds and that schools send sick children home. “If sensible precautions are taken, there is no cause for alarm, especially as long as the warm weather continues,” he told the public. Again, he said this was but ordinary grippe.4 In fact, King and the Board of Health believed that the city’s epidemic was on the decline and that further Board meetings were thus no longer necessary.5
For the next several days, all appeared quiet on the epidemic front. The local newspaper, the San Antonio Express, turned its attention towards the conditions in the local army camps, and published nary a word on civilian cases of influenza. The lull did not last for long, however. On October 16, King, the Board of Health, and other authorities met once again to discuss the epidemic. Billing the move as a precautionary one, the Board of Health suddenly voted to close all schools, churches, lodges, and theaters, and to ban public gatherings effective the next day. The Board asked residents to stay home as much as possible; children were expressly prohibited from gathering on playgrounds during their impromptu vacation.6
The closure order came very late, right as San Antonio’s epidemic was reaching its peak.7 Suddenly, San Antonians began to take their epidemic very seriously. On October 19, physicians, perhaps spurred by the closure order, reported a total of 700 influenza cases for the previous 24-hour period, a marked increase from the previous daily tallies. King now admitted that the epidemic was far from being under control. At pains to explain why San Antonio’s influenza situation now seemed so dire, the health officer accused those with mild forms of the disease with spreading it by not taking strict personal precautions.8 Medical personnel were overwhelmed with cases. About half the medical staff at Fort Sam Houston were themselves sick with influenza and had to be replaced with infantrymen. At Robert G. Green Memorial Hospital for San Antonio’s and Bexar County’s indigent, 18 student nurses tended to 140 influenza patients, since the 12 regular nurses there were ill. King declared that it might be necessary to convert schools to makeshift emergency hospitals if the epidemic grew much worse.9
On October 23, King announced that the influenza epidemic was waning; the previous two day’s reports showed 306 cases and 399, respectively. “The situation in every way is much better,” King said, “but we will not lift the quarantine until the disease is stamped out.”1 Several days later, with 256 cases reported for the day, King told residents that influenza was now firmly under control. By the end of the month, the number of new cases had dropped to 80. King believed the danger had passed, and announced that the closure order and gathering ban might be removed within a few days if the situation continued to improve.11
When city officials met informally on November 1, however, they deemed it too risky to lift the public health orders. Several present believed that conditions were still too serious, and that a premature removal of the bans could cause a resurgence of the epidemic. One health department physician stated that a few more days would show a decided improvement in the influenza situation. The group thus decided to revisit the idea at its next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, November 4.12 Over the interceding weekend, however, the case tallies did not decline, averaging slightly over 200 per day. With the news, few expected health authorities to lift the closure order. King believed that the epidemic was running its course, but argued that it would do so more quickly if residents observed health and hygiene regulations more stringently.13
King and his colleagues paid close attention to the influenza situation over the next several days, with an eye to lifting the closure order as soon as they saw safe to do so. At noon on Saturday, November 9, King and the Board of Health met to review the week’s influenza reports. Only 47 new cases were reported, a significant drop from previous tallies. The group decided that the time had finally come for San Antonio daily life to return to normal. Effective at one minute past midnight on Monday, November 11, the city’s schoolchildren would return to their classrooms, theaters and movie houses would reopen their doors, and public gatherings could once again take place. Entertainment venues immediately went about preparing their businesses for a flow of patrons. The Majestic planned on opening with “Two Sweethearts,” a vaudeville act. The Grand prepared a double-feature for moviegoers: “The Devil’s Double” starring William Hart, and “The Cook” with comedic actor Fatty Arbuckle. At the Princess, eager patrons could see Charlie Chaplin play a doughboy recruit eager to show his heroism in “Shoulder Arms.”14 Little did the city know that Monday would soon become Armistice Day, giving residents even more reason to celebrate.
As San Antonio reopened, health authorities took stock of the past weeks. Between September 30 and November 7, city physicians reported 7,391 cases of influenza and nearly 500 resultant deaths to the health department. King thanked the public for their patience and their cooperation in making San Antonio’s battle with epidemic influenza a success. In fact, according to these figures, the city had experienced a rather high case fatality rate of 6.7 percent.15 And the war with influenza was not yet over.
The rest of November passed without too much trouble. After three weeks off, students returned to their classrooms to discover that they would be required to go to school on the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving in order to prepare for the usual pre-Christmas round of exams. As one reporter put it, “many a sidelong glance was cast from windows to the sunlit outside” as children sat at their desks during what was the year before a holiday break.16 Shortly thereafter, however, the epidemic began to spike once again. By the first days of December, health officials were working non-stop to find care for influenza victims. King announced that he might have to place San Antonio under another round of restrictions if the situation did not improve soon.17
He did not give the city or the epidemic much time to respond. The next day, December 5, King met with the Board of Health, Mayor Bell, school officials, the Bexar County health officer, medical officers from Fort Sam Houston and Camp Travis, and United States Public Health Service representatives. Surveying the rising tide of influenza, the group decided to implement a second closure order in San Antonio. Effective the next morning, theaters, movie houses, and other entertainment venues were to close. Authorities were still undecided as to whether churches, schools, and large public events such as the upcoming Britain Day Celebration should be included, and postponed that decision until the Superintendent of Schools Charles Meek could investigate and report back on the influenza conditions in the schools.18 Meanwhile, in a separate meeting, the city commission finally passed an ordinance making influenza a mandatory reportable disease.19
The next day, King stated that he did not wish for the second closure order to be unfairly applied to only certain businesses; if the situation demanded it, he would close additional places of gathering. Likewise, if the situation improved, theaters and movie houses would be allowed to reopen – again – the following week. In the meantime, he asked for the cooperation of the military in prohibiting dances, and the support of residents in taking the epidemic seriously. Not fully understanding the nature of influenza epidemics, King assumed that the recent spike in cases could only be the result of carelessness on the part of San Antonians. “The people have treated lightly the warnings of the health department and the various learned physicians,” he decried, “and have been led by random reasonings of their own.” Yet a few lines later, he admitted that the city had lifted its previous round of closures too soon.20
On December 9, the Board of Health met again to consider whether the closure order should be extended to other gathering places as well. With 527 cases reported for the previous two days, the Board decided that more stringent measures were indeed necessary. Effective the morning of December 10, all schools (public, private, and parochial) and churches were ordered closed, and all public and private dances, lectures, conventions, and banquets prohibited. Several private schools asked that they be allowed to remain open, given their small class size and well-ventilated buildings. The Board refused all such requests.21
Once again, San Antonio acted late; the second bout with influenza had already reached a peak on December 7.22 Still, health authorities were even more determined to stamp out the epidemic once and for all. When several pool halls remained open – their owners claimed that they had not been notified of the closure order – King directed Police Chief Frederick Lancaster to shut them immediately. Department store managers announced that they were eager to comply with the Board of Health’s request that they prevent crowding in their shops and to stagger their business hours. To ensure that they held true to their word, King arranged for bands of residents to volunteer to line up in front of stores during peak hours to ensure that customers did not crowd inside.23 Theater and movie house employees, upset that stores were allowed to remain open while they were put out of work once more, requested that they be allowed to volunteer for the anti-crowding patrols. King denied their request, possibly to prevent their potentially over-zealous enforcement of the new rules.24
The number of influenza cases slowly declined, and within a week King told the public that the closure orders could be removed in a few day’s time if the trend continued. He also directed physicians to report the names and addresses of influenza cases so that health authorities could keep better track of them and to placard infected homes.25 Theater managers and workers were not so easily placated, however. Upset at what they considered to be their unfair treatment by the Board of Health, they sought a injunction relief from the Thirty-Seventh District Court as a way of testing the legal authority of the city to issue closure orders. On December 21, however, before the case could get off the ground, the San Antonio Board of Health voted to rescind the closure order, effective immediately, with schools to reopen after the Christmas holidays. By agreement between both sides, the case was dismissed. Mayor Bell, angered by the incident, testily responded to the theater lobby, letting them know that the city would impose a third closure order if necessary. “The Health Department cannot afford to place dollars above human lives,” he stated publicly, “and I regret that any business man in the city would assume this attitude.” King echoed the sentiments. “If we do [issue another closure order] I want the theatrical people to understand that we will not be deterred by their complaints. They are, in fact, the only ones who have complained,” the health officer said.26
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of San Antonio’s epidemic is how late the Board of Health was to take action. When the Board issued closure orders in October and December, the moves coincided exactly with the two fall peaks of the city’s epidemic. Ideally, the time to implement closure orders and gathering bans would have been several weeks before those peaks. Undoubtedly this late action was a result of having poor tracking data, as influenza was not made a mandatory reportable disease in the city until December 7, 1918. Relying on voluntary reporting of cases, King and the Board of Health had imperfect information on which to base their decision to close San Antonio’s public gathering places.
Overall, between the start of the epidemic in September and the end of January of 1919, San Antonio physicians reported 12,367 cases of influenza to the health department. Of these cases, 881 people died, a case fatality rate of 7.1%.27 These numbers might not be accurate, however. According to the results of a door-to-door survey conducted by United States Public Health Service officers W. H. Frost and Edgar Sydenstricker, San Antonio’s actual incidence rate – the number of people who contracted influenza – was a whopping 535 per 1,000 residents. 28 That would peg the real number of San Antonio influenza cases at something closer to 86,000, and the case fatality rate at approximately 1.0%. The city’s epidemic death rate was approximately 550 per 100,000 people, about average for the nation as a whole.
1 “Quarantine Placed on Camp Travis to Prevent Epidemic,” San Antonio Express, 2 Oct. 1918, 13.
2 “Several Hundred Influenza Cases Develop in City,” San Antonio Express, 7 Oct. 1918, 13; “Pneumonia Cases Develop at Travis Result in Influenza,” San Antonio Express, 8 Oct. 1918, 7.
3 “Local Authorities Called to Aid War against Influenza,” San Antonio Express, 8 Oct. 1918, 10.
4 “Plan to prevent spread of influenza,” San Antonio Express, 9 Oct. 1918, 20.
5 “Health Condition in City Better,” San Antonio Express, 10 Oct. 1918, 16.
6 “Board of Health Orders Theaters in City Closed,” San Antonio Express, 17 Oct. 1918, 16.
7 The first of San Antonio’s epidemic peaks came on the week ending October 19, 1918. See, W. H. Frost, “Statistics of Influenza Morbidity, with Special Reference to Certain Factors in Case Incidence and Case Fatality,” Public Health Reports 35 (March 1920):586.
8 “Influenza Spreads, Pneumonia Causes Many Deaths Here,” San Antonio Express, 20 Oct. 1918, 17.
9 “Influenza Victims are Discharged to Return to Details,” San Antonio Express, 20 Oct. 1918, 6; “Influenza Cases Still Increasing,” San Antonio Express, 22 Oct. 1918, 14.
10 “Quarantine Not to be Lifted Yet,” San Antonio Express, 23 Oct. 1918, 16.
11 “Marked Decrease in Influenza Cases,” San Antonio Express, 26 Oct. 1918, 14; “Quarantine May be Lifted Sunday,” San Antonio Express, 30 Oct. 1918, 16.
12 “Not to Lift Ban on City within Week is Decision,” San Antonio Express, 2 Nov. 1918, 16.
13 “Influenza Holds Average Increase,” San Antonio Express, 5 Nov. 1918, 6.
14 “Raising the Ban to be Decided Today,” San Antonio Express, 9 Nov. 1918, 14; “Theaters to Open Doors on Monday,” San Antonio Express, 10 Nov. 1918, 21.
15 “Influenza to be History after 12 O’clock Tonight,” San Antonio Express, 10 Nov. 1918, 2. Because San Antonio physicians were not required to report influenza cases, it is entirely possible that the number of cases was higher, thus making the case fatality rate lower.
16 “School Held Saturday,” San Antonio Express, 1 Dec. 1918, 13.
17 “Influenza Report Indicates Return of Epidemic Here,” San Antonio Express, 5 Dec. 1918, 18.
18 “Influenza Rages; Quarantine again Placed over City,” San Antonio Express, 6 Dec. 1918, 15.
19 “Quarantine May be Tightened to Prevent Epidemic,” San Antonio Express, 7 Dec. 1918, 3.
20 “Quarantine May be Tightened to Prevent Epidemic,” San Antonio Express, 7 Dec. 1918, 3.
21 “City Placed under Strict Quarantine to Check Epidemic,” San Antonio Express, 10 Dec. 1918, 15.
22 W. H. Frost, “Statistics of Influenza Morbidity, with Special Reference to Certain Factors in Case Incidence and Case Fatality,” Public Health Reports 35 (March 1920):586.
23 “Quarantine Order to be Thoroughly Enforced in City,” San Antonio Express, 11 Dec. 1918, 8.
24 “Slight Decrease Shown in Number,” San Antonio Express, 12 Dec. 1918, 10.
25 “Quarantine May be Lifted This Week,” San Antonio Express, 17 Dec. 1918, 7; “Influenza Reports Please Officials,” San Antonio Express, 20 Dec. 1918, 20.
26 “Quarantine Has Been Lifted by Health Board,” San Antonio Express, 22 Dec. 1918, 10.
27 See the monthly bulletin San Antonio Board of Health, Health Department of the City of San Antonio, Texas, Vital Statistics (San Antonio, 1918) for the months of the epidemic.
28 W. H. Frost, “Statistics of Influenza Morbidity, with Special Reference to Certain Factors in Case Incidence and Case Fatality,” Public Health Reports 35 (March 1920):588.
|200||Excess Death Rate (per 100,000)|
October 1, 1918
Thirty-one counties in Texas are reporting cases of influenza. The Secretary of the State Board of Health, Dr. W. A. Davis, recommends that cities and counties take preventative measures in order to curtail the spread of the disease. Camp Travis and Fort Sam Houston are prepared to bar soldiers from public places upon first signs of influenza.
October 2, 1918
Seven more counties report cases of influenza and Camp Travis is quarantined as a preventive measure. Despite 60 cases at the Base Hospital, Brigade General George H. Estes, camp commander, is not worried.
October 3, 1918
There are no deaths at camps thus far; however, a quarantine is in effect for Fort Sam Houston, Kelly Field, Brooks Field, Camp John Wise, and the Motor and Mechanical Repair Shops. Outdoor activities are planned to entertain soldiers while public places like the YMCA are closed.
October 4, 1918
The Camp Travis quarantine is relaxed today and no major cases have been reported over the past few days.
October 5, 1918
51 Texas counties are reporting influenza cases. The Red Cross is mobilized to fight influenza.
October 6, 1918
Fort Sam Houston dispatches a laboratory car to Camp Mabry. Colonel Clayton, Surgeon Southern Department, believes that the epidemic does not have much of a chance in the Southern Department due to precautions and warm weather.
October 7, 1918
Dr. W. A. King, City Health Officer, reports several hundred cases of influenza in San Antonio. King believes the influenza to be a form of ordinary “la grippe.” Ventilation systems in public places of entertainment are to be kept running, and those displaying cold symptoms will be denied entrance. Deputies will enforce this if necessary.
October 8, 1918
Camp Travis reports 141 cases, and Fort Sam Houston reports 234 cases and one death. Rienzi M. Johnston, Acting Governor of Texas, asks local authorities to consider discontinuing public assemblages in areas which are experiencing severe outbreaks of influenza. Health Officer King calls a meeting to discuss preventive treatment, while the Red Cross work room remains open for the purpose of mask making.
October 9, 1918
Camp Travis has more than 4,000 cases of influenza. Men are detailed to nurse duty due to a shortage of nurses. The Board of Health recommends against unnecessary assemblages. Children with colds are not to be admitted to schools. Health Officer King reiterates his belief that the influenza is ordinary “la grippe.”
October 10, 1918
Acting Governor Johnston requests nurses and women with nursing experience, and appeals to Baylor University and the University of Texas for help. Camp Travis remains under quarantine. There are 179 cases in San Antonio and authorities say the epidemic is decreasing.
October 11, 1918
The Red Cross is cooperating with state and federal authorities in order to manage the epidemic. Nurses and aids are still needed in army hospitals.
October 12, 1918
Authorities say epidemic is checked as the number of reported new cases is decreasing. Fort Sam Houston Base Hospital receives 62 women with varying degrees of nursing experience to replace the 20 nurses who have the influenza.
October 13, 1918
Officials predict a lifting of the camp quarantine before the week’s end. Surgeon General Rupert Blue asks all those able to volunteer nursing services.
October 15, 1918
Colonel Clayton says that the influenza is on the wane as today’s reports are the most encouraging yet.
October 16, 1918
Influenza cases admitted to the hospital are increasing. In the past 24 hours there have been 22 deaths at Camp Travis.
October 17, 1918
City Board of Health decides to close schools, churches, lodges, and theaters. No public gatherings will be permitted. Camp quarantines still hold, although married men and civilians not showing symptoms may obtain passes for San Antonio. Nurses are still in demand.
October 18, 1918
Army authorities say the number of deaths at camps is merely aftermath of an epidemic already fading. The Board of Health permits the Red Cross workrooms to remain open, but volunteers will be required to wear masks.
October 19, 1918
Some churches will be open for prayer and meditation for those who wish to come, but no official services will be held.
October 20, 1918
About half of the Fort Sam Houston medical staff are ill and have been replaced by untrained infantrymen and artillerymen. Health Officer King admits that the epidemic is far from being over control and accuses those with mild cases of not taking necessary precautions, thereby spreading the disease across the city. There is a marked shortage of supplies, including sheets and masks. The Red Cross reports a 50% reduction in their force due to influenza.
October 22, 1918
Medical authorities do not believe that the epidemic has reached its height in San Antonio. Undertakers are keeping back death certificates due to the number of deaths, and this makes exact death totals difficult to determine. Health Officer King says schools may be required for makeshift hospital space due to high demand.
October 23, 1918
Reports from Camp Travis and the Southern Department indicate the epidemic may be declining.
October 24, 1918
The epidemic is judged to be on the wane. People are encouraged to remain home, take care when sneezing and coughing, and are asked to obey guidelines. Public funerals are banned.
October 25, 1918
Dr. F. Paschal determines that germ-containing mucus particles cling to dust and can transmit influenza. He advises frequent vacuuming of floors, walls and ceilings. Dr. Paschal also states that germs die quickly in sunlight and open air. It is predicted that camps will lift quarantines soon.
October 26, 1918
Health authorities currently plan to let the courts begin in November as usual, but will revisit the plan in a week. Health Officer King believes the disease is under control, but reminds people to continue to exercise caution.
October 27, 1918
Despite concerns over rainy weather, the epidemic shows signs of improvement. Camp Travis reports a 60% decrease in influenza cases.
October 28, 1918
Many influenza wards close as they are no longer needed, and workers begin to move from tents back to barracks. The Board of Health reports significant decreases.
October 29, 1918
Camp Travis partially lifts its quarantine. The Fort Sam Houston quarantine will probably be lifted within hours.
October 30, 1918
The quarantine will be lifted by week’s end if the situation continues to improve. The Board of Health will make the final decision on Friday. Health Officer King is sure that the danger has passed and states that churches, theaters and halls will likely be open by next week.
October 31, 1918
Colonel W. T. Wilson, Surgeon of the Southern Department, does not think it is advisable to lift the quarantine at Fort Sam Houston. Inoculations at Camp Travis are giving the men fevers, and they are being watched for influenza symptoms.
November 1, 1918
50-100 burials are occurring in various Mexican communities on a daily basis as drug supplies are exhausted and entire families are dying. The Red Cross is to make a survey of all nursing resources.
November 2, 1918
A slight disease increase is attributed to the suspension of preventive measures throughout the state. San Antonio city and health officials decide it is too risky to lift the quarantine, and schools, churches, and theaters will remain closed. While the death toll in San Antonio is lower than in other areas, the influenza is not believed to have run its full course.
November 3, 1918
Influenza is decreasing in military facilities. The quarantine remains in effect in San Antonio and officials will not hazard a guess as to when it will be lifted.
November 5, 1918
Health Officer King thinks the influenza is running its course. A meeting to discuss current health conditions takes place, but a relaxation of preventive measures is not anticipated. Quarantines at camps are not to be relaxed.
November 6, 1918
Another meeting to discuss health conditions will be held on Saturday (11/9) as there is still no decision on when to lift the quarantine.
November 7, 1918
Authorities predict the ban will be lifted on Monday.
November 8, 1918
Health Officer King issues a statement thanking the people of San Antonio for their patience, and states that he believes the danger has practically passed.
November 9, 1918
The Board of Health meets at noon to decide whether or not to lift the quarantine.
November 10, 1918
Health Officer King asks that people continue to exercise caution despite tomorrow’s anticipated lifting of the quarantine.
November 11, 1918
The quarantine comes to an end today. Theaters and public meetings resume business as usual.
November 13, 1918
The football season may continue now that the quarantine is lifted. There is a slight increase in cases in the Southern Department.
November 14, 1918
Schools are asked to make up any time lost during the quarantine. The Superintendent of San Antonio Schools, Charles S. Meek, suggests using holiday breaks to make up time.
November 15, 1918
Death rates remain the same but the situation is improving.
November 17, 1918
Conditions are declared to be practically normal in military camps.
November 24, 1918
Weekly city report shows 132 cases, 17 deaths.
November 27, 1918
Texas death record shows 257% increase in deaths from September to October, due to the influenza epidemic. It is believed that October records do not include more than 70% of actual number of deaths.
November 28, 1918
School is to be held on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving to help make up for any school missed due to influenza. Health Officer King says there is no need to think the influenza is returning.
November 30, 1918
The 92 cases reported in the last 2 days in San Antonio demonstrate an increase. Schools are open today (Saturday) in order to ensure students are ready for pre-Christmas exams.
December 5, 1918
Health Officer King says that if the situation does not improve the city may be placed under quarantine again. King advises cough etiquette and avoiding crowds. A new ordinance is passed at a meeting of the City Commissioners, which makes physicians punishable if they do not report cases promptly.
December 6, 1918
Theaters and movies are closed as of this morning. Theater and movie house managers plan to ask the Board of Health to replace the closure with a mask order similar to the one in Los Angeles.
December 7, 1918
The Board of Health postpones their closure decision until Monday (12/9). Health Officer King says that if the situation worsens over the weekend that public dancing will be banned, and reminds physicians to report cases promptly.
December 8, 1918
Health Officer King is conducting a rigorous canvass of business districts to determine the number of sick employees in order to determine the status of epidemic in the city. King advocates a strict quarantine and scolds citizens for having a lax attitude towards flu preparations. He also says that the last quarantine was raised too soon.
December 9, 1918
Camp Travis is not to be quarantined.
December 10, 1918
The city is under a strict quarantine. All schools (private and public), churches, and places of indoor amusement are closed. Public and private dances, banquets, conventions, and lectures are canceled. Regulations are in place to ventilate and to prevent crowds in department stores and streetcars. Officers are stationed in front of stores. Stores are prohibited from advertising sales. Superintendent Meek says all schools are to remain closed until after the Christmas break. County and district courts have canceled jury dockets until 1/6/19.
December 11, 1918
There is a slight increase in the number of cases at Camp Travis, but there is no cause for alarm according to authorities.
December 12, 1918
The Public Service Company is adding streetcars in order to prevent congestion.
December 13, 1918
Health Officer King says that the strict quarantine is responsible for the decrease in the number of cases. Case data for the rural parts of the county are unavailable because physicians are not held to the same stringent reporting rules as are those in San Antonio.
December 14, 1918
Guards are placed in front of two department stores on East Houston Street to prevent overcrowding. Mayor Sam C. Bell receives a letter from Dallas city officials asking about the effectiveness of the closure order in San Antonio. Mayor Bell replies that the number of reported cases has decreased.
December 17, 1918
The quarantine may be lifted at the end of this week [Friday 12/20 or Saturday 12/21]. Health Officer King says the quarantine will not be lifted until there are 50 or fewer cases reported in a day. San Antonio approves a proposal for a statewide quarantine.
December 18, 1918
Health Officer King says the quarantine may be lifted very soon.
December 20, 1918
The Board of Health asks that warning placards be placed outside of homes where the influenza is present. Physicians are now required to report the name and address of any influenza patients in order to help health authorities to accurately record cases. The City Board of Health says that the flu restrictions will be lifted by Monday (12/23).
December 21, 1918
All theaters, moving picture shows, pool and dance halls are allowed to open immediately today. Churches are allowed to hold services today. Public schools will not reopen until after the Christmas holiday.
December 22, 1918
San Antonio public schools will reopen on Monday (12/30). Superintendent Meek says schools must make up for 2 weeks and 4 days of lost classes.
December 24, 1918
Houses with flu victims continue to be placarded. Health Officer King warns citizens not to visit influenza patients in their homes.
December 28, 1918
All San Antonio schools remain closed.
December 30, 1918
Public schools reopen today.
January 8, 1919
Many citizens are complaining that new cases aren’t being reported, and that this is fueling a recurrence of the epidemic. Despite the lifting of the quarantine, Health Officer King insists that physicians must report all cases to the Bureau of Health.
January 9, 1919
Health Officer King, and Major C. H. Gardner of the U.S. Public Health Service, believe the San Antonio Bureau of Health will have to order a third quarantine if the situation does not improve. They ask mangers of theaters and movies to eject anyone who coughs or sneezes during a performance.
January 10, 1919
Bureau of Health officials urge citizens to report all cases.
January 14, 1919
The Bureau of Health decides to enforce the flu order requiring theaters and movies to expel any patrons who cough or sneeze during a performance. A warning message will be provided and deputies will enforce the new rules.
January 24, 1919
Only eighteen new cases are reported.
January 26, 1919
City Hall officials believe that the epidemic is on its way out thanks to citizens’ compliance with precautionary measures.
January 31, 1919
Health Officer King says that the epidemic is over as far as this season is concerned, but reminds people to continue to use caution.
March 1, 1919
Bureau of Health reports indicate that the influenza is “a thing of the past.”