As the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. theoretically was better positioned to deal with the 1918 influenza pandemic than any other American city. Along with the city’s own Health Officer, Dr. W.C. Fowler, the United States Surgeon General Rupert Blue and Public Health Service staff were at hand to try to stem the rising tide of the disease. They had good reason: Washington, D.C. was not only the Nation’s political center but its military one as well. Unfortunately, the state of medical science, the rapidity with which the disease struck, and some political mismanagement did much to hamper efforts to control the deadly epidemic. As a result, Washington, D.C. suffered one of the worst epidemics in the nation.
Washington newspapers first began reporting the appearance of influenza cases in the city in the last week of August, although it is likely that the disease was circulating well before that due to the large number of incoming and outgoing military personnel.1 Initially, however, it was assumed that influenza was mainly a military problem that was circulating throughout naval stations and army camps and might not become widespread amongst civilians. On September 26, Health Officer Dr. W. C. Fowler warned the public to be cautious about influenza, but he did not believe that threat of a large-scale epidemic was serious. Within a few days, however, as reports of additional civilian cases and a few deaths trickled into his office, Fowler became slightly more concerned.2 He recommended that citizens stay off streetcars if possible and asked organizations to postpone all unnecessary meetings until the danger of influenza had passed. He did not yet believe there was reason to order a ban on public gatherings, however.3 “There is little danger that Washington, with its high degree of wholesomeness, will be the scene of serious outbreak of the disease,” Fowler announced.4
Health Officer Fowler and other district officials quickly changed their tune, however. On the morning of Wednesday, October 2, the school board decided to close all public schools effective at noon, sending approximately 50,000 students home for the duration of the epidemic. Fowler requested that private schools do the same, and all agreed. Louis Brownlow, District Commissioner, ordered the cancellation of all public gatherings (including public funerals) and the closure of churches, theaters, and movie houses effective October 3. All other businesses and shops were placed on a staggered operating-hours schedule to help alleviate streetcar congestion. Physicians were ordered to report all cases of influenza to the Health Department. Fowler, himself ill with what was reported to be influenza, issued a one-page circular on the disease’s prevention and treatment, to be sent to every household in the city. Officials ordered playground hours extended and promised additional equipment to entice children to get as much fresh air as possible. Commissioner Brownlow also announced that he was collaborating closely with Public Health Service officials to meet the challenges presented by the epidemic crisis.5
The next day, Brownlow ordered churches and Sunday schools closed and barred children from city playgrounds. He also ordered physicians to report all influenza cases and to isolate all patients as stringently as possible; the fine for failing to do either was a whopping $50. Public libraries were closed. George Washington University closed, and Georgetown University suspended regular classes while the school’s Student Army Training Corps units were placed under a campus-wide quarantine. The federal government even took action, closing the Library of Congress and the Senate and House galleries, and postponing public court hearings. Army medical officers stationed in the city were tasked with helping civilian physicians with their caseloads.6 Washington, D.C. had finally gotten serious about its epidemic.
It was none too soon. The situation was growing worse by the day, with nearly 3,000 cases total officially reported in the city. Shortly after the epidemic had begun, the United States Public Health Service had opened a temporary emergency hospital at 612 F Street, NW.7 That hospital was quickly overwhelmed. Officials then divided the city into five districts and established temporary headquarters in school buildings in each of them. These district headquarters would be used to direct local physicians and nurses more efficiently to influenza cases, hopefully cutting down on transportation times and service overlap.8 To relieve pressure on hospitals, four emergency relief centers and an emergency hospital were established across Washington, D.C. Initially, each was staffed with one physician and twelve nurses, but within a few days federal officials stepped in to help, tasking army and navy doctors to assist.9 Soon, however, even this augmented staff was overwhelmed with cases. The Red Cross put out desperate calls for trained nurses as well as untrained volunteers to help at the emergency centers.10 Unfortunately, African Americans were largely on their own, as the centers were for white residents only. Not until late-October did a relief station for Washington, D.C.’s African American residents open, located at the Armstrong Manual Training High School at 1st and P Streets, NW.11
On October 9, church leaders met with District Commissioner Brownlow in an attempt to have churches removed from the list of closed institutions. Brownlow absolutely refused. Outdoor meetings, however, were still allowed. Believing that churches thus could dodge the closure, on October 10, the Board of Commissioners added all outdoor meetings to the list of prohibited gatherings.12 Two days later, Brownlow met with Surgeon General Rupert Blue to discuss the problem of the massive influx of war workers entering Washington, D.C. Brownlow, Fowler, and some congressional representatives wanted the city closed to outsiders until the epidemic had passed, as the sheer number of newcomers was causing congestion on the mass transit lines and in housing. Federal authorities denied the request, which they argued was impossible to enforce. Instead, they asked the Civil Service Commission to stop calling war workers to Washington, D.C. until after the danger of the epidemic had passed. Secretary of Treasury William McAdoo and Secretary of the Interior Franklin Lane responded by ordering their departments to stop recruiting workers from outside the Washington, D.C. area.13
By the last week of October, the city’s influenza situation seemed to be improving. Physicians were reporting fewer numbers of new cases each day, and hospitals were seeing a decrease in admissions. With the good, if still tentative, news, Fowler came under increasing pressure to remove the ban on public gatherings. He refused, stating that he would not recommend lifting the ban for some time to come. The Board of Education set the tentative school reopening date for Monday, November 4, a move with which Fowler strongly disagreed. “Tremendous pressure is being brought to bring about the reopening of the public schools, theaters and churches, but, in my opinion, it is yet too early to throw off the safeguards,” he told reporters. Some of this pressure came from clergy, upset that their churches were closed while department stores, poolrooms, and bowling alleys were allowed to conduct business as usual. One pastor questioned the church closure order altogether, arguing that it disrupted “the normal religious life of our city,” and was a virtual admission that “the Lord’s hand is shortened, that it cannot save!” Yet Fowler and Brownlow agreed that it was still too soon to consider reopening public places, and urged residents to stay the course until all danger of the epidemic had finally passed.14
The very next day, however, Fowler abruptly changed his mind and recommended that the closure order be lifted. On October 29, the district commissioners followed his advice and rescinded the ban. Churches would be allowed to reopen on Thursday, October 31, and schools and theaters on Monday, November 4.15 Children would make up lost classroom time through a combination of a revised and intensified curriculum and reduced future vacation time, but officials felt confident that extra days would not have to be added to the academic calendar.16
Meanwhile, the number of new influenza cases and deaths in the nation’s capital continued to decline. Throughout November it appeared as if the epidemic would soon burn itself out completely. On November 24, the city commissioners removed the restrictions on business hours that had been in place for nearly two months.17 Residents went about their business wary of a potential return of the disease, but hopeful that the worst had passed.
By early-December, however, influenza cases began spiking again, with some days seeing several hundred cases being reported by physicians. Fowler was not surprised, and had been warning that a recurrence of the disease was likely. He kept a close eye on influenza in the city’s schools, seeing classrooms as a barometer for how bad the situation really was. On December 11, he discussed the possibility of a second school closure with Superintendent of Schools Ernest Lawton Thurston, and the two men agreed that keeping classrooms open would prevent children from crowding in downtown stores during the busy holiday shopping season. Two days later, with new case tallies approaching 350 per day, Fowler told the city commissioners that it might be time to close schools, churches, and theaters once again. After some debate, however, they decided to take no action. The city remained open.18
By this time, Washington’s emergency hospitals had closed. The health department reopened the F Street emergency facility on December 19 to handle the new cases. With insufficient funds to run the hospital, however, the department had to rely heavily on funding from the Public Health Service, the American Red Cross, and the medical department of the Army.19
Washington D.C.’s influenza epidemic continued throughout the rest of the year and into early-February 1919, albeit with reduced case numbers. Between October 1, 1918 and February 1, 1919, some 33,719 Washington residents fell ill with influenza, with 2,895 of them succumbing to the disease.20 The result was one of the more devastating epidemics in the nation: an excess death rate of 608 per 100,000.
1 “Death Here from Spanish Influenza,” Washington Evening Star, 21 Sept. 1918, 2, and “Influenza Kills Here,” Washington Post, 22 Sept. 1918, 3.
2 The first civilian death in Washington, D.C. was reported on September 21. See Annual Report of the Commissioners of Columbia, Year Ended June 30, 1919, Vol. III: Report of the Health Officer (Washington, D.C.: 1919), 16.
3 “Influenza Brings Death to 3 More,” Washington Evening Star, 27 Sept. 1918, 1.
4 “Washington and the Influenza,” Washington Evening Star, 29 Sept. 1918, 2.
5 “City Fights Grippe with Severe Steps,” Washington Post, 3 Oct. 1918, 1; Annual Report of the Commissioners of Columbia, Year Ended June 30, 1919, Vol. III: Report of the Health Officer (Washington, D.C.: 1919), 16.
6 “Flu Still Spreads,” Washington Post, 5 Oct. 1918, 1; “Army Physicians to Aid Neighbors,” Washington Evening Star, 4 Oct. 1918, 19; “Thirty-one Die from Influenza Here in 11 Hours,” Washington Evening Star, 6 Oct. 1918, 1; “Decrease Shown in Deaths from Influenza in D.C.,” Washington Evening Star, 7 Oct. 1918, 1; “Decrease Shown in Deaths from Influenza in DC,” Washington Evening Star, 7 Oct. 1918, 1.
7 Annual Report of the Commissioners of Columbia, Year Ended June 30, 1919, Vol. III: Report of the Health Officer (Washington, D.C.: 1919), 17.
8 “12 More Deaths from Influenza in the District,” Washington Evening Star, 8 Oct. 1918, 1.
9 “No Crest Yet in Flu,” Washington Post, 9 Oct. 1918, 1, and “76 Army and Navy Doctors are Detailed to New Flu Station,” Washington Post, 12 Oct. 1918, 4. The emergency centers were established at the Curtis School in Georgetown, the Wilson Normal School at Fourteenth and Harvard Streets, NW, the Webster School at Tenth and H Streets, NW, and the Van Ness School at Fourth and M Streets, SE. The 500-bed emergency hospital was established at 19th Street and Virginia Avenue, NW. See, “83 Deaths in Day from Influenza,” Washington Evening Star, 16 Oct. 1918, 19.
10 “New Flu Hospital,” Washington Post, 14 Oct. 1918, 1.
11 “Epidemic Recedes, View of Officials,” Washington Evening Star, 21 Oct. 1918, 1. Armstrong’s most famous student was Duke Ellington, who studied commercial art at the school. This does not seem to be relevant.
12 “No Crest Yet in Flu,” Washington Post, 9 Oct. 1918, 1; “47 More Die of Flu,” Washington Post, 10 Oct. 1918, 1.
13 “74 Die, High Record, and 1,594 Cases,” Washington Post, 12 Oct. 1918, 1, and “D.C. Deaths Fall to 65 in Today’s Influenza Report,” Washington Evening Star, 12 Oct. 1918, 1; “88 Deaths by Flu, High Record in City,” Washington Post, 16 Oct. 1918, 1.
14 “Reopening the Schools,” Washington Post, 23 Oct. 1918, 6, “Closing of the Churches,” Washington Evening Star, 26 Oct. 1918, 7, and “Epidemic Decline Seen by Officials,” Washington Evening Star, 28 Oct. 1918, 2.
15 “Movies, Schools, and Churches are to Be Reopened,” Washington Evening Star, 31 Oct. 2.
16 “School Officials Plan for Current Semester,” Washington Evening Star, 30 Oct. 1918, 7.
17 “Stores Will Open Early Tomorrow,” Washington Post, 24 Nov. 1918, 24.
18 “408 Influenza Cases in City since Nov. 26,” Washington Evening Star, 2 Dec. 1918; “313 New Flu Cases,” Washington Post, 11 Dec. 1918, 8; “Influenza Cases Take a Big Jump,” Washington Evening Star, 12 Dec. 1918, 2; “Plan Drastic Step to Halt Influenza,” Washington Evening Star, 13 Dec. 1918, 2; “Public Gatherings Not to Be Stopped,” Washington Evening Star, 14 Dec. 1918, 2.
19 Annual Report of the Commissioners of Columbia, Year Ended June 30, 1919, Vol. III: Report of the Health Officer (Washington, D.C.: 1919), 17.
20 Annual Report of the Commissioners of Columbia, Year Ended June 30, 1919, Vol. III: Report of the Health Officer (Washington, D.C.: 1919), 18. The mortality figure also includes 680 deaths due to pneumonia brought on by influenza.
|200||Excess Death Rate (per 100,000)|
September 20, 1918
Camp A.A. Humphreys has thirteen influenza cases under observation.
September 21, 1918
John W. Clore, the first known influenza patient in the city, dies.
Two influenza cases are reported to Health Officer William C. Fowler.
September 24, 1918
Seven possible cases are present in the city. The cases are so mild, though, that Health Officer Fowler believes they may not actually be influenza.
September 25, 1918
There is a second death from influenza today.
The Health Department begins using a “spot map” to plot new cases.
The District of Columbia chapter of the American Red Cross is making 45,000 face masks for use by soldiers and patients at the Walter Reed General Hospital.
September 26, 1918
Six cases of influenza are reported today.
Health Officer Fowler prepares to hang risk communication posters in streetcars.
September 27, 1918
Over the past 36 hours, forty-two new influenza cases have been reported.
Health Officer Fowler asks people to remain outdoors as much as possible to avoid transmission.
The Army postpones the draft call, affecting 213 registrants bound for Camp Meade.
September 28, 1918
Health Officer Fowler asks that people postpone all unnecessary meetings for the time being.
Community centers throughout the city are closing their doors to social activities.
The D.C. Red Cross receives another face mask order for 25,000 masks.
Starting Monday (September 30) schools are ordered to send home any students with colds.
September 29, 1918
Congress passes a resolution appropriating 1 million dollars for the United States Public Health Services to use in fighting influenza.
September 30, 1918
Eighty-seven cases of influenza and seven deaths are reported today.
Teachers are complying with orders to send home any children with colds.
October 1, 1918
213 cases of influenza and 21 deaths have been reported to date.
Health Officer Fowler is ill and believed to be suffering from influenza.
October 2, 1918
Public schools are closed starting at noon today until the influenza situation shows improvement.
To help relieve congestion, starting tomorrow federal employees are to follow staggered hours.
Retail stores, excepting drug and food stores, will also follow alternative hours.
Health inspectors will inspect all eating establishments and theaters.
Streetcar companies are ordered to open windows whenever possible.
The Liberty Loan Committee cancels all large indoor gatherings and rallies. Parades are also cancelled for the time being.
October 3, 1918
The city is declared a sanitary zone, with United States Public Health Service inspector Dr. H.S. Mustard in charge of federal efforts.
Commissioner Brownlow orders closed churches and places of public amusement. This includes theaters, movie houses, dance halls, and any indoor meetings.
Liberty Loan meetings will be held outdoors now.
Dances and parties in private homes are to be cancelled.
Health Officer Fowler asks physicians to report cases of influenza to the Department of Health.
All private schools are asked to close, but boarding schools may remain open.
Violators of the staggered store hours will be reported to the police department.
October 4, 1918
Dr. Mustard is establishing a corps of home care nurses.
The Library of Congress is closed to the public for the remainder of the epidemic.
The Y.M.C.A. cancels all classes and entertainment until the epidemic has passed.
Commissioner Brownlow strongly urges physicians to report all cases of influenza.
A temporary influenza hospital for war workers opens at 612 F Street.
October 5, 1918
On Drs. Mustard and Fowler’s recommendation, congressional and public libraries are now closed.
Commissioner Brownlow orders physicians to report and isolate all cases of influenza, and instates a $50 penalty for non-compliance.
Over 150 postal clerks and carriers are ill with influenza, leading to a mail backlog.
The Health Department distributes 50,000 copies of a risk communication circular throughout the city.
October 6, 1918
Churches hold outdoor services today.
George Washington University and Georgetown University are now closed.
Physicians, nurses, and pharmacists are severely overworked and in demand. Army physicians and graduate and undergraduate nurses are called upon to volunteer.
High school boys are asked to work at post offices to alleviate employee absences.
October 7, 1918
1,201 cases of influenza have been reported to date.
Dr. Mustard asks soda fountains to either sterilize dishes or use paper cups for the time being.
Railways and the telephone company report high absence rates.
Health Officer Fowler forbids public and church funerals.
October 8, 1918
The American Red Cross will bring in hundreds of nurses and contribute supplies to the fight against influenza in the city.
Dr. Mustard will close soda fountains and restaurants that do not sterilize dishes or use paper cups.
Streetcar companies report that 20% of conductors are absent.
October 9, 1918
1,297 cases of influenza and 39 deaths are reported.
Outdoor meetings are now prohibited. This includes church services and Liberty Loan rallies.
To expedite care, the city is divided into four zones with physicians and nurses assigned to each.
Zone headquarters and relief stations are at Curtis School, Wilson Normal School, Webster School, and Van Ness School.
D.C. Red Cross will serve hot food to families too ill to cook their own meals.
Commissioner Brownlow refuses a request from the Pastors’ Federation to exempt churches from closure orders.
October 10, 1918
Commissioner Brownlow is looking into ways to ensure landlords heat buildings adequately.
Physicians, nurses, and pharmacists continue to be overworked and in high demand.
Undertakers are taxed by the high death rate and are importing coffins from other cities to try to meet demand.
85 firemen and 134 policemen are ill with influenza.
The Court of Appeals and Juvenile Court close.
October 11, 1918
1,472 cases of influenza are reported today.
Landlords who refuse to heat buildings will be fined $40 per day.
13 apartment houses complain about a lack of heat today.
Health Officer Fowler issues a call for more gravediggers. They are needed at once and will be compensated.
October 12, 1918
Commissioner Brownlow and Health Officer Fowler are working 15-18 hour days.
The Capitol building is closed to all visitors, effective today.
The United States Supreme Court will continue its recess until 10/21.
Dr. Mustard establishes four new emergency hospitals at Curtis School, Wilson Normal School, Webster School, and Van Ness School.
October 13, 1918
Surgeon General Rupert Blue and Commissioner Brownlow recommend to President Woodrow Wilson that no more war workers be summoned to D.C. until the epidemic is over.
The D.C. Red Cross enrolls 50 trained nurses and over 100 volunteers to help at the four zone relief stations.
The Community Center Department of the public schools organizes relief committees throughout the city.
Health Officer Fowler meets with undertakers to make plans to deal with the coffin shortage.
Judge Edwin B. Parker and United States Public Health Service officers decide to open a new 500 bed emergency hospital at 18th St. and Virginia Ave.
Commissioner Brownlow asks government offices and businesses to provide a census of employees, with the goal of recruiting nurses and aids for the new emergency hospital.
October 14, 1918
Major Raymond Pullman, superintendent of the police department, instructs the department to help fight the epidemic in any way possible.
October 15, 1918
Health Officer Fowler appropriates all coffins in D.C. Undertakers are now required to requisition them through Fowler’s office.
The new emergency hospital on 18th St. and Virginia Ave. will be ready in 1-2 days.
City post office employees in direct contact with the public are required to wear face masks.
October 16, 1918
819 cases of influenza are reported today.
Dentists, barbers, and elevator operators are now wearing face masks.
The new emergency hospital at 18th St. and Virginia Ave. is open.
More nurses and volunteers are needed throughout the city.
United States Public Health Service officials urge everyone to wear face masks.
The War Department commissions 60 soldiers to dig graves.
The coffin shortage continues.
October 17, 1918
The House appropriates an additional 10 million to help in the nationwide fight against influenza.
A shortage of nurses continues, and calls are put out for volunteers.
The new emergency hospital at 18th St. and Virginia Ave. has 40 patients.
The D.C. Red Cross has no more face masks available right now, and people are asked to make their own.
After meeting with Health Officer Fowler, Superintendent of District Schools Ernes Lawton Thurston announces November 4 as a tentative school reopening date.
October 18, 1918
934 cases of influenza are reported today.
The new emergency hospital at 18th St and Virginia Ave has 90 patients as of this evening.
The need for trained nurses remains urgent.
Automobiles are also badly needed to transport physicians and nurses.
Twenty-five portable hospitals have been established in the City. The War Department has provided nurses and 50 soldiers as orderlies.
October 19, 1918
744 cases of influenza are reported today.
Health Officer Fowler asks the street cleaning department to keep streets clean as dust irritates mucous membranes and may facilitate the spread of influenza.
Commissioner Brownlow is ill with possible influenza.
October 20, 1918
100 soda fountains are closed due to a lack of paper cups and violations of sanitary regulations.
A thousand recruits provide nursing and clerical skills for the D.C. Red Cross.
Kitchens are established in the four zones in the city.
To reduce congestion in streetcars, Judge Edwin B. Parker orders automobile owners to act as taxis for war workers during morning and evening commutes.
The 612 F Street hospital is overcrowded and patients will be moved to the emergency hospital on 18th St. and Virginia Ave.
October 21, 1918
Dr. Mustard returns to work today after a week’s absence due to influenza.
The emergency hospital on 18th St. and Virginia Ave. has 200 patients.
The Girl Scout Influenza Kitchen has sent out food to 137 people suffering from influenza.
150 automobiles are used daily to transport physicians and nurses, but more cars are needed.
The Armstrong Manual Training School Emergency Hospital opens today for African American patients.
October 22, 1918
The emergency hospital on 18th St. and Virginia Ave. has 170 patients, and desperately needs nurses.
Physicians enlist pharmacists in working to relieve homes stricken with influenza.
October 23, 1918
392 cases of influenza are reported today.
The emergency hospital on 18th St. and Virginia Ave. has 186 patients.
The Girl Scout Influenza Kitchen has provided 200 people with food in the last two days.
All officers, enlisted men, and employees on duty at the War Department may now receive anti-pneumonia vaccine from the Army Medical School.
The tentative school reopening date is still November 4.
October 24, 1918
305 cases of influenza are reported today.
The emergency hospital on 18th St. and Virginia Ave. has 243 patients.
A convalescent ward is established for discharged patients with nowhere to go.
October 25, 1918
The Armstrong Manual Training School Emergency Hospital needs physicians and nurses’ aids.
Automobiles are also needed for transporting physicians and nurses from the hospital to patients’ homes.
The D.C. Red Cross urges people to make face masks at home.
The Girl Scout Influenza Kitchen continues to serve influenza sufferers. Since it opened 6 days ago, it has served 600 people.
October 26, 1918
402 cases of influenza are reported today.
In response to pressure to reopen churches, Commissioner Brownlow says they will reopen as soon as conditions warrant.
The emergency hospital on 18th St. and Virginia Ave. has 247 patients.
October 28, 1918
159 cases of influenza are reported today.
The emergency hospital on 18th St. and Virginia Ave. has 218 patients.
October 29, 1918
Churches that hold mid-week services may reopen on Thursday, October 31.
Schools, movie theaters, and other gatherings may reopen on Monday, November 4.
The Chamber of Commerce has collected a sum of money for influenza relief work.
Dr. Mustard believes that in a few days the situation will be able to be handled by local physicians.
October 30, 1918
Due to the month lost to closure orders, schools will intensify courses and cut back on vacation time.
Health Officer Fowler closes the annual mum show to the general public at the last minute.
October 31, 1918
Churches that hold mid-week services are allowed to reopen today.
Superintendent of Schools Thurston gives orders to send home children with severe colds, or those who are showing signs of influenza.
The public library will reopen on Monday, November 4.
November 2, 1918
52 cases of influenza are reported today.
The United States Supreme Court will resume on Monday, November 4.
November 3, 1918
All churches are allowed to reopen today. Many special services are held in celebration.
November 4, 1918
The closure orders are lifted today.
Public and private schools reopen.
Classes resume at George Washington University and Georgetown University.
Movie theaters also reopen today to full houses.
November 7, 1918
30 cases of influenza and six deaths are reported today.
November 17, 1918
Over the past week, the D.C. Red Cross Motor Corps has been busy transporting influenza patients from emergency hospitals to permanent hospitals.
November 18, 1918
D.C. has had 24,464 cases and 1,908 deaths to date.
November 24, 1918
The staggered hours dating from October 3 for retail stores are rescinded. It is hoped this will help spread out holiday shopping.
Government departments continue to follow staggered hours.
November 30, 1918
For the week, 285 cases of influenza and 12 deaths are reported.
Health officials are not alarmed. Health Officer Fowler said he expected this slight recurrence.
December 1, 1918
The D.C. Red Cross sends out a call for more cars and drivers.
December 2, 1918
Health officials expect influenza cases will continue throughout the winter.
December 7, 1918
72 cases of influenza are reported today.
The D.C. Red Cross re-establishes headquarters at Webster School to enroll nurses.
December 9, 1918
181 cases of influenza are reported today.
December 10, 1918
Health Officer Fowler and Superintendent of Schools Thurston meet to discuss a possible school closure order.
December 12, 1918
244 cases of influenza are reported today.
Health Officer Fowler is keeping a close watch on conditions in schools.
Large numbers of students are absent, but whether they are ill or kept home out of fear is impossible to tell.
December 13, 1918
343 cases of influenza are reported today.
Commissioner Brownlow and Health Officer Fowler decide the situation does not warrant a closure order.
Health Officer Fowler is investigating complaints that streetcars are not properly ventilated.
The Girl Scout Diet Kitchen is working hard to meet the increase in demand.
December 15, 1918
As a precautionary measure, Congress approves an appropriation bill for funds for an influenza hospital.
December 16, 1918
245 cases of influenza are reported today.
December 19, 1918
235 cases of influenza are reported today.
Health officials believe case reports should continue to decline.
December 20, 1918
Despite an improvement in conditions, plans for a temporary influenza hospital are moving forward.
Health Officer Fowler is sure the worst is over.
December 22, 1918
192 cases of influenza are reported today.
The temporary hospital will be at the 612 F Street emergency hospital, which closed in late October due to overcrowding.
The hospital will accommodate 90 patients, and the Red Cross will provide nurses.
December 24, 1918
The 612 F Street emergency hospital reopens this evening with U.S.P.H.S. surgeon Dr. E.W. Scott in charge.
5 patients are admitted, with more expected.
The hospital has floors designated for women and children, men, and Army patients.
December 26, 1918
Health Officer Fowler asks physicians and nurses to sign up to volunteer at the 612 F Street emergency hospital.
December 27, 1918
31 patients are at the 612 F Street emergency hospital and appeals go out for volunteers to help with clerical work.
December 28, 1918
302 cases of influenza are reported today.
The Red Cross receives a call for 2,000 face masks for use by physicians and nurses.
December 29, 1918
342 cases of influenza are reported today.
45 patients are at the 612 F Street emergency hospital.
The Red Cross, United States Public Health Service, and Instructive Visiting Nurse Society discuss plans to prevent a recurrence of influenza.
December 31, 1918
287 cases of influenza are reported today.
20 Red Cross nurses are mobilized to work in the new temporary influenza hospital.
226 cases of influenza are reported today. Health Officer Fowler blames the high numbers on the rainy weather.
56 patients are at the 612 F Street emergency hospital.
January 3, 1919
186 cases of influenza are reported today. Health Officer Fowler says the situation is improving despite the rainy weather.
January 14, 1919
66 cases of influenza are reported today.
January 16, 1919
300 Bureau of Engraving and Printing are inoculated against influenza as part of a United States Public Health Service experiment.
January 19, 1919
86 cases of influenza are reported today.
February 11, 1919
The 612 F Street emergency hospital remains open, and will do so as long as necessary.
February 13, 1919
The death rate is 18.6 per 1,000 people. This is the first decrease since the influenza epidemic began.
February 22, 1919
The Bureau of Census appoints a committee to study government records of the influenza epidemic.
March 9, 1919
The 612 F Street emergency hospital is turned over to District authorities.