SALT LAKE CITY — The newspaper headlines in 1918 tell an awfully familiar story.
“SPANISH INFLUENZA APPEARS IN SALT LAKE CITY AND THERE IS TALK OF A QUARANTINE” proclaimed the Ogden Standard.
“SCHOOLS, CHURCHES, THEATERS AND ALL PLACES OF AMUSEMENT CLOSED” screamed the Millard County Chronicle.
“SPITLESS DAYS TO CURB SPREAD OF INFLUENZA” read a headline in the Salt Lake Telegram.
The headlines from local newspapers, compiled by Fox13now.com, show how Utahns reacted to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that hit, infecting nearly 92,000 in the state and ultimately killing about 2,900. The virus, which historians believe actually originated in middle-America, hit Utah in October 1918 and lasted until spring of 1920.
The tales back then are mirrored by the current crisis, which has claimed two more lives in Southern Utah. The Utah Department of Health announced two additional deaths from the coronavirus in Southern Utah on Saturday, both women in unspecified long-term care centers in Washington County.
Brad Westwood, a senior historian with Utah’s Division of History, said the influenza pandemic was initially disregarded when it first emerged.
“This is just a flu, no worry, things’ll work out,” he said of the initial response. “Then it turns into, ‘Oh no, this is something different.'”
As the influenza pandemic really hit the state, health officials ordered restaurants, churches, schools and other gathering places closed. At the time, automobiles were starting to emerge but Utahns mostly traveled by horse and buggy and train, Westwood said. People had to carry papers to determine if they had been examined and were well.
There were also controversies over re-opening schools and wearing face masks, which sounds eerily familiar. Latter-day Saint wards made their own masks to wear to slow the spread of influenza.
Written by BEN WINSLOW, Fox13Now.com.
St. George News weekend editor/reporter Chris Reed contributed to this story.
COVID-19 information resources
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We invite you to check the resources below for up-to-date information and resources.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- World Health Organization
- Utah Department of Health
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- Intermountain Healthcare
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Southern Utah coronavirus count (as of July 18, 2020, seven-day average in parentheses)
Positive COVID-19 tests: 2,369 (52.0 new infections per day in seven days, dropping)
- Washington County: 1,842 (36.3 per day, steady)
- Iron County: 415 (6.4 per day, dropping)
- Garfield County: 20 (0.3 per day, steady)
- Kane County: 29 (1.7 per day, dropping)
- Beaver County: 13 (0.1 per day, steady)
- Cases not identified by county: 50
Deaths: 21 (0.6 per day, steady)
- Washington County: 17 (2 new)
- Iron County: 2
- Garfield County: 2
Current Utah seven-day average (Goal of less than 500 by Aug. 1 ): 617 (rising)
Copyright 2019, KSTU. A Tribune broadcasting station