Virus: Spanish Flu Atlanta

Sat 2020–03–28 11:45:31 –0400

“The next day, United States Surgeon General Rupert Blue notified all state health officers that they should consider enacting social distancing measures to prevent the spread of influenza. In Georgia, health officer Dr. T. F. Abercrombie decided to leave that decision up to local authorities. Kennedy wasted no time in deciding to – as he put it – ‘lock the stable before the horse was stolen.’ Thus far there were only a handful of cases reported and no discernible epidemic. Yet Kennedy believed that there were probably fifteen to twenty active influenza cases per physician in the city. Knowing what had occurred in cities such as Boston, he decided not to wait for a more serious outbreak. At a short afternoon meeting on October 7, Kennedy and the city Board of Health voted to close all schools, libraries, theaters, movie houses, dance halls, churches, and other places of public amusement, and ordered street cars to keep their windows wide open except when raining.”

“Immediately after the Board of Health’s meeting and just before the first of the day’s matinees were set to begin, managers of the Wells, Lyric, Forsyth, and Rialto theaters canceled their shows and closed their doors. Students reported to their classrooms the next morning only long enough to collect their books and homework assignments. Later that day, Fulton County health officials closed all churches and public and private schools in the county. Atlanta and its environs settled down for a long, entertainment-less autumn. Fortunately, residents could still attend the Southeastern Fair and Liberty Pageant, allowed to proceed because it was held outdoors.”

The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918–1919, Atlanta, Georgia