On September 23, 1918, Dayton Health Commissioner Dr. A. O. Peters warned his fellow residents about the impending influenza epidemic. There were few cases currently in the city, he said, but anticipated that new ones would soon develop “with considerable rapidity.” He cautioned residents to isolate themselves as much as possible, and to avoid pubic gatherings and crowds.1 A week later, after about half a dozen cases developed and after conferring with Acting State Health Commissioner Bauman, Health Commissioner Peters ordered Dayton physicians to quarantine all influenza cases for at least four days after last exposure.2 Peters himself quarantined four houses right away, and another fourteen the first week of October. He believed that the majority of cases – all relatively mild thus far – were due to “carelessness on the part of members of… families in which one or more members are afflicted in unnecessarily exposing themselves,” and that quarantine and isolation would quickly contain the epidemic. He also believed that the current epidemic was no worse than the one that had occurred in December 1916 or April 1918, ignoring indications from the East that this epidemic was much worse than previous ones.3
By October 8, the epidemic had grown enough in Dayton for Peters to take notice. There were 168 reported cases in the city, and some 2,600 students and 28 teachers reported absent from school. Education officials decided that the situation was not yet serious enough to warrant school closures. Later that day, however, Ohio Department of Health officials issued closure order recommendations, and Peters moved to close schools, churches, and theaters.4 The next morning, after meeting with the city manager and other health officers, Peters issued a supplemental order closing saloons, soda fountains, and poolrooms. Two days later he allowed saloons to re-open for the sale of bottled liquor, but prohibited public gatherings. Open-air activities were not affected by the order. Within two days, physicians reported their belief that the crest of the wave had been reached, and that the epidemic would quickly subside in the coming days.5
On October 15, Peters announced that he believed the crest of the epidemic had passed, and that Dayton’s death rate slowly would return to normal in the coming weeks. He added that the new cases that were being reported were milder and shorter in duration, with more people recovering fully than earlier in the epidemic. “While the hardship [of the regulations] are working upon some people… is unfortunate, it cannot be obviated,” he told the public. “The health of the city is of prime importance and just as soon as conditions become such as to justify the removal of present restrictions, they will be revoked.” Peters estimated that it would take another week or ten days. He thought that if would be safe to re-open the schools next week, before lifting the other restrictions, but decided that all closure orders would be lifted at the same time.6
A week later, however, Dayton officials received word from State Health Commissioner Bauman that the epidemic situation in Ohio had not yet improved enough to warrant lifting any restrictions on social gatherings or crowding. Cases were reported to be declining in adults but were increasing among children. Even then, nearly 300 Dayton residents had died already of either influenza or pneumonia, and the disease had caused thousands – the newspaper estimated 35,000, which was most certainly exceedingly high – of cases. State and local officials told Dayton residents to be prepared to wait until at least early-November for the closure order to be lifted.7
As in other cities across the United States, a shortage of nurses to care for those in hospitals was a problem. In addition to its regular nurses, Dayton had fifteen visiting nurses to lend their aid. Three of them, however, now had influenza themselves and were out of commission. Superintendent of Nurses Elizabeth Holt issued a desperate call for more trained nurses, stating that the city’s experience with untrained women serving as nurses had been entirely unsatisfactory. The local Red Cross nurse registrar disagreed, telling women that they need not be either a graduate or even a practical nurse in order to be of assistance, arguing that “a woman with her normal ‘horse sense’ ought to be able to do many things for the sick.”8
On October 30, Peters met with the city’s Director of Public Welfare Dr. Frank D. Garland and City Manager J. E. Barlow to discuss the possibility of removing the public gathering restrictions after receiving word that state officials would meet shortly to lift the state-wide ban. The three men decided that, provided Ohio Heath Commissioner Bauman and the state Department of Health agreed, Dayton would return to normal business on Saturday, November 2. Bauman gave his consent the following day. Due to the higher prevalence of influenza among the city’s youngsters, schools were to be kept closed for the time being, and children under the age of 16 would not be permitted to attend church, enter movie houses or theaters, or visit libraries. Peters warned residents that the danger was not yet completely over, and that the city needed to remain on guard. People were admonished to wear warm clothing, and building owners and superintendents told to maintain proper ventilation.9
As November led into December, cases among schoolchildren began to increase. Peters and school officials contemplated re-closing the city’s schools if the situation did not improve in the next several days. He undertook an investigation of the epidemic in the schools to see if such a move could be forestalled. The results showed that the epidemic seemed to be hitting some sections of the city harder than others. In some neighborhoods, schools were barely affected; in others, nearly half the student body was absent. Overall, approximately twenty percent of public school students and ten percent of parochial school students were absent. Of these, it was estimated that five-percent were actually sick with influenza, while the rest were out with other ailments or because of concerned parents. Second and third graders seemed to be the most affected, while two high schools were without any cases. School nurses were busy working overtime, attending to ill students in their homes and instructing parents on how to properly care for their sick children. With a view to ending the epidemic once and for all, Peters and school officials closed Dayton’s grade schools beginning Tuesday, December 10.10
Two weeks later, Peters announced that the number of new cases among the city’s schoolchildren was rapidly declining. With the upcoming holiday break and a desire to err on the side of caution, schools were kept closed until after the New Year. On New Year’s Eve, children were allowed to attend gatherings and festivities for the first time since early-October. The celebration was short-lived: on January 2, 1919, children returned to the drudgery of the classroom as adults settled into a new year with high hopes of being free of news of war or influenza.11
Influenza, of course, continued to attack and kill throughout the winter of 1919. During the brunt of the epidemic, from October through December 1918, 657 Dayton residents had died as a result of either influenza or influenza-related pneumonia. Another 44 would die in January 1919.12 For a city of barely 150,000, these numbers were significant. Although not as hard hit as either Cleveland or Cincinnati, Dayton experienced a total excess death rate of 295 per 100,000 people during the fall of 1918 and winter of 1919.
1 “Spanish Influenza Makes Appearance,” Dayton Daily News, 23 Sept. 1918, 11.
2 D. F. Garland and A. O. Peters, “Influenza,” Division of Health, Department of Health of Dayton Ohio (October 1, 1918), 2.
3 “Influenza is Causing Some Alarm in City,” Dayton Daily News, 30 Sept. 1918, 19; “Four Quarantines Are Established by Health Officials,” Dayton Daily News, 1 Oct. 1918, 13; “Influenza Cases in Quarantine Here,” Dayton Daily News, 4 Oct. 1918, 28; “Undue Alarm in Influenza Outbreak Here,” Dayton Daily News, 5 Oct. 1918, 14.
4 The Ohio State Department of Health did not issue a mandatory statewide closure order, believing that local communities should be left free to adapt the general closure order recommendations to their needs. See “Controlling the Influenza Epidemic in Ohio,” The Ohio Public Health Journal 9 (Nov. 1918), 453-456.
5 “Discuss Closing Public Places at Conference,” Dayton Daily News, 8 Oct. 1918, 13; “Churches, Schools, Movies, Ordered Closed,” Dayton Daily News, 9 Oct. 1918, 1; “Believe Wane of Influenza on the Wane,” Dayton Daily News, 10 Oct. 1918, 1; “Epidemic is Believed on Down Grade,” Dayton Daily News, 11 Oct. 1918, 1.
6 “More Deaths Fewer in Epidemic,” Dayton Daily News, 15 Oct. 1918, 1; “Quarantine to Continue for Another Week,” Dayton Daily News, 16 Oct. 1918, 18.
7 “Public Places May Be Closed Indefinitely,” Dayton Daily News, 23 Oct. 1918, 4; “Fourteen Deaths from Epidemic Here Thursday,” 24 Oct. 1918, 12; “State in No Hurry to Lift Flu Ban,” Dayton Daily News, 23 Oct. 1918, 12. Since the Ohio State Department of Health had not issued a mandatory statewide closure order, it did not need to give communities clearance to re-open their public places. However, the State Department of Health strongly discouraged the premature lifting of closure orders and gathering bans, and did its best to ensure that local authorities kept such measures in place until conditions in the region warranted their removal. See “Controlling the Influenza Epidemic in Ohio,” The Ohio Public Health Journal 9 (Nov. 1918), 453-456.
8 “Visiting Nurses Working Overtime,” Dayton Daily News, 25 Oct. 1918, 25; “Appeal for Nurses in Influenza Homes,” Dayton Daily News, 28 Oct. 1918, 13.
9 “Gradual Lifting of Influenza Ban Expected in Ohio,” Dayton Daily News, 30 Oct. 1918, 17; “Ban Lifting is Left with State Board,” Dayton Daily News, 31 Oct. 1918, 18; “Official Order for Lifting Ban is Promulgated,” Dayton Daily News, 1 Nov. 1919, 13.
10 “Consider Closing the Grad Schools,” Dayton Daily News, 6 Dec. 1918, 1; “No Drastic Action to be Taken Here because of Epidemic,” Dayton Daily News, 7 Dec. 1918, 12; “Unique Condition in Flu Situation Discovered Here,” Dayton Journal, 6 Dec. 1918, 7; “Two Upper High Schools without Influenza Cases,” Dayton Journal, 7 Dec. 1918, 4; “Grade Schools Will Not Open Here Tuesday,” Dayton Daily News, 9 Dec. 1918, 12.
11 “Restrictions Off, Children Are Free on New Year’s Eve,” Dayton Daily News, 31 Dec. 1918, 1.
12 D. F. Garland and A. O. Peters, “Influenza,” Division of Health, Department of Health of Dayton Ohio (Jan 15, 1919), 7.
|200||Excess Death Rate (per 100,000)|
September 17, 1918
Spanish Influenza has not yet become a major presence in Dayton, even though it is an epidemic on the east coast. Only a few cases have been reported so far and these have been mild in nature. Dr. A. O. Peters, City Health Commissioner, hopes that the spread of influenza can be prevented in Dayton. Peters recommends avoiding those affected, prompt medical attention, and taking care when sneezing and spitting. The State Department of Health has shared special instructions with Dayton physicians about the treatment of influenza.
September 29, 1918
Three Dayton doctors offered their services to the United States’ effort to end influenza. They will be re-located to an army camp to treat patients. Dayton’s district is expected to supply 15 doctors.
October 1, 1918
Health Commissioner Peters circulates a statement to Dayton physicians about influenza and its treatment. Peters reports that a few cases have already occurred in Dayton, with at least one death. Dayton is especially hoping to prevent an epidemic because of the “large number of war orders being filled here.” Influenza is a reportable disease and those who are exposed will be quarantined for three days. A state law requiring all non-medical personnel who know about a case of influenza to report it will be in effect.
October 3, 1918
Health Commissioner Peters states that streetcars are one of the places a person is most likely to be exposed to influenza. However, because the Health Department does not want to limit streetcar travel, precautionary measures are issued to streetcar companies. These include: always ventilate cars; do not allow crowding within cars; clean each car well each day at least once; car operators should not be allowed to work when they display influenza symptoms. To enforce these precautions, members of the police force will check on streetcar conditions.
October 4, 1918
Health Commissioner Peters doesn’t believe influenza will cause a serious problem in Dayton.
Wilbur Wright Field and McCook Field hospitals are in “emergency” status. The Red Cross has been asked to supply a large amount of medical equipment to treat patients. Every woman who can is strongly urged to report to Red Cross headquarters. Hundreds of Dayton residents are helping to fight influenza. Hospitals at Wilbur Wright field are at capacity, and other buildings are being put to use as overflow facilities.
October 5, 1918
Wilbur Wright Field has 355 cases and Dayton has 83. These cases are quarantined, as required. Conditions in Dayton are not predicted to get worse, and it is believed that the situation will soon improve.
More than 200 women responded to the Red Cross’s call for female volunteers. They helped with emergency sewing.
A “painless” vaccine is being used by Dayton physicians to treat persons who may have been exposed to influenza. It is hoped that the vaccine will help prevent the on-set of influenza. Some recipients of the vaccine are not at all affected, while others experience tiredness, headache, and nausea as temporary side effects.
The Cleveland Red Cross sends copies of a United States Public Health influenza pamphlet to Dayton. It is distributed in the schools and children take pamphlets to share with their families. The pamphlet outlines general advice about the prevention of influenza.
October 6, 1918
An “emergency call of the most urgent kind” is sent out to Red Cross offices throughout the country. Nurses of any kind (whether graduated, an aide, etc.) are badly needed. Nurses who have taken courses in hygiene are especially requested.
Nurses will be paid but volunteer service is always appreciated.
Pneumonia cases (resulting from influenza) show a slight increase in Dayton.
October 7, 1918
Four are dead from influenza at Wright Field. However, Health Commissioner Peters says that not all cases reported are actually influenza.
Peters announces that the City Health Department will take a survey of all schools, stores, and factories in the city to learn exactly how many people are sick with influenza and what number of the population has been exposed to it.
October 8, 1918
At least for the time being, public schools will not be closed. In factories, men who display signs of illness are sent home to protect other workers from being infected. Most factories show 10% absenteeism from sickness. Health Commissioner Peters reports that those working in saloons and streetcars are obeying the health regulations. Plainclothes policemen will ride streetcars to catch and arrest spitters. Similarly, breaking quarantine (by leaving a placarded house) is not to be “tolerated.” A group of city officials decided that it is mandatory to sterilize all glassware in soda fountains.
October 9, 1918
Upon the request of McCook Field men, city officials close schools, theaters, and churches at noon for an indefinite period. If not for the McCook Field employees and munitions workers, a quarantine of this sort probably would not have been introduced. Health authorities are not “alarmed” about spread of influenza in Dayton. These precautions could be terminated in as few as three days or remain for as long as three weeks. Municipal courts will close today and will remain closed until Monday (10/14).
A registry of nurses is being compiled. Questionnaires will be distributed throughout Dayton, and made available in drug stores.
October 10, 1918
Physicians think the worst is behind Dayton. Fewer cases are reported at Wright McCook fields. However, as an additional precaution, saloons, poolrooms, and soda fountains are closed today at noon. Self-serve restaurants are ordered to place food behind guards so that only employees may touch it until placed on patrons’ trays. The Executive committee of the Dayton Ministerial Association “cheerfully” complies with the closing of churches.
October 11, 1918
The latest news from Columbus is that 40,000 cases have been reported throughout the entire state of Ohio. The estimated number of cases is believed to be lower because influenza was not a reportable disease until the beginning of this week. The entire state of Ohio is under an order that bans public gatherings of any kind. Saloons are exempt from order but crowds and loitering are not allowed. These measures are not taken because the influenza epidemic is out of control in Ohio, but rather as a precaution.
As of today, Dayton’ s St. Elizabeth hospital will devote all of its facilities to treatment of influenza. Only emergency patients will be an exception. St. Elizabeth’s has also opened another building. The hospital’s decision should not lead us to assume that the influenza epidemic is out of control. The patients simply could be better taken care of within the hospital, than at home.
October 12, 1918
Health Commissioner Peters believes the influenza-pneumonia situation is improving in Dayton. However, the situation is still “critical,” and citizens should observe all possible precautions.
Peters reports a few cases of “suspected influenza” at Dayton State Hospital but they are not yet diagnosed. The staff is taking all precautions necessary to prevent an outbreak.
People are being turned away from Hostess House at Wright Field. Outsiders are not allowed on the Field during the quarantine. For well men at the Field, Hostess House is the only form of rest and recreation. Everything else is closed due to the quarantine.
October 13, 1918
A special Red Cross committee has set up “numerous convenient stations” throughout Dayton and the county to collect paperwork related to the registration of nurses.
No cases of influenza have been reported at Dayton’s St. Mary’s college, and all boarded students are asked to not receive any visitors while the epidemic remains a threat in Dayton. Boarded students are not allowed off the college’s grounds, to prevent them from contracting influenza.
Churches, fraternities, and other similar organizations have postponed all meetings, in an effort to fight the epidemic. Twelve saloons have been ordered closed after disobeying orders limiting liquor sales to bottles.
Conditions at McCook Field are improving, according to the surgeon in charge, with about 60 cases in the hospital. Medical staff is optimistic that patients will make a full recovery. Similarly optimistic report from Wright Field.
Reports from hospitals indicate that more deaths will occur within 24 hours. St. Elizabeth’s hospital received 15 new cases, making a total of 200 influenza and pneumonia patients. Many of these patients are badly off. Miami Valley hospital has about 100 cases, including several nurses; many are in “critical condition,” and at least five of these patients are expected to pass away.
October 14, 1918
Despite deaths, health officials are optimistic that the epidemic is waning. Health Commissioner Peters believes that the closing of public places has helped conquer the epidemic. Restrictions will not be lifted until the threat is over. However, this may happen in a few days.
October 15, 1918
Health Commissioner Peters says the epidemic has not ended, and reminds citizens to continue to obey precautions.
The twelve saloons closed on 10/13 are cleared of charges and allowed to re-open. It was determined that they misinterpreted the Health Department’s orders and unconsciously disobeyed the rules. They will be under surveillance.
October 16, 1918
Public places are expected to be closed at least until the end of the week. If conditions improve, the closures might be lifted next Monday. Health Commissioner Peters understands the closing orders present their own hardships, but necessary for the health of the community.
Hospital accommodations for influenza patients are limited and “numerous other deaths” are expected.
Approximately 20% of employees of manufacturers and other employers are off sick with influenza or pneumonia, or are absent out of fear of contracting an illness.
October 17, 1918
Health officials from the city and medical camps believe the epidemic is slowing down. The number of new cases and deaths in the next few days will determine whether the citywide quarantine is lifted or not.
Although there are several serious cases at Wright Field, conditions are reportedly improving. Conditions at McCook Field are “encouraging.”
By order of Health Commissioner Peters, private funerals are to be attended by immediate family and close friends only. Open caskets are allowed only if a glass lid is fitted on the coffin.
Over 300 nurses have completed the Red Cross questionnaire and returned it. All forms of nurses are represented (graduate, practical, and those with some nursing training). All who have some nursing training must register, no matter their race, color, gender, or creed. About 100 calls for nurses to care for influenza and pneumonia patients have been received. The number of nurses cannot meet the demand.
October 19, 1918
Several hospitals report patients with serious cases of influenza who are not expected to recover. Health Commissioner Peters claims that the death rate will be high within the next day or so because so many people are in serious condition. Referencing reports from local hospitals Peters says that conditions in the city have not improved, and that it probably will not be possible to re-open public places by next Monday.
In a larger than expected turn-out, approximately 800 nurses have registered (this includes trained, undergraduate, student, and practical nurses, as well as midwives).
October 20, 1918
Health Commissioner Peters predicts 100 deaths within the next week.
Quarantine will not be lifted for at least another week.
Conditions at Wright and McCook fields are “rapidly improving,” with no new cases and no deaths. Health Commissioner Peters will not allow soldiers to either leave or enter the city, no matter what errand they need to run.
October 21, 1918
No deaths from influenza or pneumonia are recorded at either Wright or McCook fields.
The situation is better in Dayton but Health Commissioner Peters believes that a week still needs to pass before the quarantine is lifted.
October 22, 1918
Even though 17 deaths have been reported, Health Commissioner Peters states that there is an improvement in the influenza epidemic situation in Dayton.
Officials at Wright and McCook fields are satisfied with their efforts at warding off influenza. No new cases or deaths are reported at either field.
Dayton undertakers are asked how many coffins they have in stock.
October 23, 1918
Unless the influenza situation worsens, the ban on churches, theaters, schools, and other places of congregation will be lifted on Saturday at midnight.
Some recently reported deaths actually happened several days ago but undertakers were so busy that they couldn’t report them in a timely fashion.
More questionnaires have been received at Dayton Red Cross headquarters and were mailed out at once to nurses. Supplies of questionnaires ran short due to the widespread registration response. Mrs. Frank Blum, executive secretary of Red Cross special committee, is in constant contact with the nursing force. Thanks to the nursing registry the Red Cross is able to direct families who need nursing assistance to available nurses, if at all possible.
October 24, 1918
The ban on public places will not be lifted until at least Monday.
Dayton physicians report “considerable improvement” over the past 24 hours.
October 25, 1918
Health Commissioner Peters did not encourage hopes that the ban on public places will be lifted sooner than November 4.
October 27, 1918
A statewide assessment from Columbus indicates that the influenza situation throughout the state is almost unchanged. There are currently 5,000 cases throughout state, and some cities show slight improvement. The death rate is estimated to be between 7-10%.
October 29, 1918
Orders at the state level will determine when the ban on public places is lifted in Dayton. It is estimated that the ban will stretch to November 15. Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. J.E. Bauman is interested in keeping all precautions in place until it is certain that the situation is safe.
Health Commissioner Peters reports that conditions in Dayton are “rapidly improving.” New cases have lessened and Peters estimates that the death rate will fall by week’s end. Peters believes the ban could be lifted by Sunday (11/3) but word from Bauman will ultimately determine when the ban is over.
October 31, 1918
The influenza situation continues to improve, and it is possible that the ban on public places may be lifted next Sunday. Health Commissioner Peters believes that Sunday (11/3) is a good stopping place for the ban but the ultimate decision lies with state officials.
November 1, 1918
With the blessing of state officials, Health Commissioner Peters will lift the ban on “meetings in public places.” The order only applies to adults. This means that schools and Sunday schools are not yet allowed to re-open. The ban on these places will remain for one more week. Theaters are not allowed to let in children and children are not permitted within soda fountains for the time being.
Extra sanitary measures will be taken in saloons and other places where drinking glasses are used. All containers that could lead to contamination must be sterilized.
Moving picture houses are to be opened tomorrow.
November 2, 1918
After nearly a month, the ban on public places will be almost completely lifted today. Schools will remain closed for another week, and children under 16 years of age will not be allowed in any public gathering place.
Health Commissioner Peters advises people to dress warmly and to ventilate public places well.
Churches will open for all services on Sunday (11/3), except for Sunday school. A public appeal to churchgoers goes out urging them to attend worship on Sunday.
November 3, 1918
Public places are open to all but children and soldiers. The schools will be closed for one more week.
Major A. G. Farmer, chief surgeon at Wright Field, formally lifts the ban at the field, but states that soldiers are not to attend theaters, dances, or social functions where large crowds assemble. Officials at the field do not want the epidemic to return.
Main library and Carnegie branches open today. Children are not allowed inside yet. Fines for materials that became overdue during the library’s closure will not be assessed.
November 5, 1918
There are few new cases and they are reportedly mild.
November 7, 1918
Officials are meeting today to determine if schools can be opened, possibly next Monday (11/11).
There are fewer cases at hospitals. At Miami Valley and St. Elizabeth hospitals, wards that formally held influenza patients are being fumigated. New patients, not suffering from influenza, will soon be installed.
November 8, 1918
Dayton schools will reopen Monday, November 11. To prevent the introduction of disease, all children will be closely examined to make sure they do not exhibit signs of influenza. Parents are asked to send their children to school as it is believed children have a better chance of staying healthy if they remain in school, where they can be closely monitored.
November 10, 1918
Health officials have said that there is no longer any need for special precautions against influenza. Usual precautions will do.
November 11, 1918
Superintendant of Schools Frank W. Miller hopes children will be able to get back to work quickly and that the time lost will not have too much of an impact. No changes to the school calendar have yet been made to account for time lost.
Physicians will be present today, tomorrow, and Wednesday examining students for signs of influenza.
At least in Dayton, lifting the ban on closures has “occasioned no material increase in the number of cases.” This is not true in other cities in Ohio.
November 13, 1918
Four deaths from pneumonia are reported to the City Health Department. Health Commissioner Peters says this is no indication of a return of the epidemic.
November 19, 1918
Health Commissioner Peters does not anticipate a renewal of influenza epidemic. Common colds may become more common as people are exposed to crowds again, he warns.
November 20, 1918
Health Commissioner Peters suggests that a system of licensing public eating places be established in order to regulate sanitation practices and make them easier to enforce.
November 23, 1918
There is a minor outbreak of influenza at St. Mary’s College with 24 mild cases reported. No visitors are allowed to members of the Student Army Training Corps at St. Mary’s College. The institution will be closed until 12/2 in order to prevent further spread of influenza. There were no reports of influenza at the college during the recent epidemic.
Many mild cases of influenza reported in Dayton. Not as severe as during the initial outbreak.
Health Commissioner Peters believes that “It would be very desirable to have a state law under which healthy persons who must suffer quarantine for the public good should be reimbursed for the time they lose and for the expense to which they are put. In some states this is done.”
November 24, 1918
Fourteen recent orphans, due to influenza, have become wards of Montgomery County. None of the children suffered from attacks of influenza or even had colds during the epidemic.
November 30, 1918
Influenza cases are milder than they were in October. More children than adults are currently sick, but as there is no evidence of influenza traveling through schools school closures are not believed to be necessary. A close eye will be kept on schools and their condition.
December 3, 1918
The Health Department sent cards to streetcar companies in Dayton, informing them that ventilation will help limit the spread of influenza. Two cards must be posted in each car. Posting the cards, the Health Department states, will help streetcar employees justify the ventilation of cars, if a rider should complain. A letter sent with the cards states that streetcars must be cleaned daily before they leave the storage barn.
Health Commissioner Peters doesn’t believe closing schools will do much to stop the spread of the epidemic as children will still ride streetcars. Schools won’t be closed unless it is determined that keeping schools open is hazardous to children’s health. Children in schools are being closely monitored for signs of disease. Peters says that children kept home because they are sick should not play with other children or go outside their homes. No deaths from influenza since schools re-opened have been traced to exposure from schools.
Hospitals are filling up with influenza patients again but the cases are milder and there do not seem to be as many deaths as a result.
December 4, 1918
All private and public schools are keeping in close contact with the Health Department. If it seems necessary, schools will be closed to protect children’s health.
December 5, 1918
The influenza epidemic has not lessened any within Dayton, and it may get worse. If the situation grows worse in the next few days, schools will most likely be closed. An estimated 2,000 people have influenza in Dayton, the majority of which are children. The disease appears to be more prevalent among children than adults at the current time.
Health Commissioner Peters urges employers to send sick employees home so that they do not spread illness.
Streetcar ventilation rules are being complied with, according to Peters.
All people with nursing experience are in great demand. The Red Cross will compensate all who offer their services.
December 6, 1918
Schools will not be closed until Monday (12/9), if at all, according to the City Health Department. Health Commissioner Peters says the conditions at the various schools vary. Influenza seems to be hitting in “spots.” Children in the second and third grade have been especially hard hit by influenza.
December 7, 1918
There are 14 public health nurses on call, each of whom makes an average of 15 calls a day. The majority of patients are children. Many nurses are working overtime. Any persons who have nursing training and can offer their services are encouraged to do so.
Only one death among schoolchildren has been reported for the week. Three young children died, along with 16 adults.
Health Commissioner Peters will meet with City Manager J. E. Barlow to discuss the epidemic. It is predicted that schools will be open Monday (12/9) and the situation within schools will be assessed. School closures, if ordered, will probably not apply to the two high schools, where there is little sickness.
No public funerals are allowed in homes where there are people sick with influenza. If a public funeral is necessary, it must be held in a public place, like a church.
December 8, 1918
Schools will remain open. Influenza is “not threatening” according to officials.
December 10, 1918
Health Commissioner Peters orders all schools (private and public) closed due to the influenza epidemic. Action was taken because there are more influenza cases in Dayton, even though they are of a much milder degree. The death rate is somewhat lower and most deaths are adults. Officials are hopeful that closing schools will limit the spread of influenza.
No children under 14 are allowed in moving picture houses or other places where people gather. There will be no Sunday school classes at the present time.
December 12, 1918
Dayton hospitals have treated more than 1,300 patients total in October and November. Of these, 425 patients were suffering from influenza, and 52 cases of influenza afflicted nurses.
The current death rate is characterized as “stationary.”
Absences in the city’s high schools have improved since Tuesday.
December 14, 1918
Reports on Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo mortality rates indicate that they are all higher than Dayton.
The health situation of Dayton was said to have improved over the past two days.
December 16, 1918
In an effort to limit streetcar congestion, and to prevent influenza from spreading, Health Commissioner Peters asks the city to pass a resolution that will require Dayton factories to stagger their work schedules.
Some streetcar companies have replaced glass ventilator panels with screens. Others comply with the ventilation order by having overhead and window ventilators. If any passenger witnesses a closed ventilator, they are asked to report it to the Health Department.
December 17, 1918
In an effort to limit the spread of influenza, Health Commissioner Peters reports that Christmas pageants, entertainments, and festivities featuring children are forbidden. Likewise, stores are asked to limit holiday demonstrations, especially if they are appealing to children.
The disease situation has improved considerably in the past few days but physicians are “very anxious to aid in every way, that the epidemic may be entirely eliminated.”
December 18, 1918
The public library is not allowed to permit children under 14 years old into the building. Otherwise, the library will be open for service. Older members of the family may check out books for children under 14. Books from homes where influenza is present should be wrapped and marked “influenza.” They will be fumigated.
December 19, 1918
There is little change in the influenza situation within Dayton. New cases of influenza are not severe in nature, nor as severe as the first wave of the epidemic.
There is no indication of when the ban on children under 14 from public places can be lifted.
December 22, 1918
Health officials think that influenza will be completely gone soon, and describe a “marked improvement” in the epidemic. The number of new influenza cases is on a downward trend, especially among children.
Restrictions on children under 14 will not be lifted yet. The Health Department will remain on alert until danger has passed.
December 29, 1918
Unless conditions drastically worsen, the influenza ban in Dayton will be lifted on January 1, 1919. The decision has been prompted by the decrease in deaths over the past week.
December 30, 1918
The ban on children under 14 in public places will be lifted on 1/1/1919. The order has been in effect for several weeks, and it is thought to have been worthwhile because there is a “material decrease” in the number of influenza cases.
December 31, 1918
The order banning children under 14 from public places will be lifted at 6pm tonight. When the ban is revoked, children may attend theaters and picture houses. Schools will open on Monday, January 6.
Even though health authorities believe that danger has passed, they caution people to limit their exposure to crowds and to observe good health practices.
January 3, 1919
Somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 cases of influenza occurred in Dayton during the recent influenza epidemic.
Grade schools, which have been closed since December 9, will reopen on Monday, January 6.
January 4, 1919
Overall, deaths in Dayton were lower than in other cities and other previous years in Dayton’s history.
January 25, 1919
Two rooms at McKinley school that were closed by city physicians will re-open Monday (1/27). All children in these classrooms are closely monitored and only one has shown any sign of being sick.
January 26, 1919
Health officials report that the health of the city is especially good for the time of year. Thirteen deaths from influenza and/or pneumonia are reported. This is not an increase from the previous week.
Two first grade classrooms at McKinley school, closed because of influenza, will open tomorrow.
January 31, 1919
The health record for the month is good, in comparison to two years ago.
January 1917 saw 42 deaths from pneumonia, while January 1919 had 41 cases of influenza and pneumonia combined.
Influenza currently present in the city usually develops into a chronic cough. Health Commissioner Peters states that there is little risk of cases turning into pneumonia.