Latest in a series of posts on the Spanish Flu
For perspective on our current coroniavirus situation, we are following the entrance of the 1918 Spanish Influenza, that paragon of pandemics, into the minds and bodies of Lehigh Valley residents who got their news through the Morning Call (the files of the Bethlehem Globe are closed to us at the moment).
On September 27, 1918, exactly two weeks after the news that the Spanish Flu had “arrived” in the U.S., the story lands solidly among major war stories on p. 1 of the Morning Call. Four Associated Press releases are now grouped in one article rather than oddly and randomly distributed individually as they had been. News about a major outbreak among students at Middlebury College — with one death and, for the very first time, a named victim — indicates to our local reading public that the disease has traveled outside the military camps and will be real for them. And Boston initiates the first attempt to thwart the spread by closing “all theatres, moving picture shows, dance halls, and ‘other unnecessary places of public assembly’.” The Flu moves quickly, with fully 50,000 cases in Boston in this two-week period (in contrast to about 40,000 in the past two weeks in the New York area).