The 1918 Spanish Flu in South Dakota

By Rachel Lindgren

Social Distancing is the act of keeping physical separation from people with the intention of stopping or reducing the spread of a disease.  The “social distancing,” cancellations and closures that Coronavirus, COVID-19, has introduced to the lives of people around the world is not a new technique. In fact, during the 1918 Spanish Flu, many of the same techniques that are suggested today were practiced in the United States.

According to the CDC website, the Spanish Flu occurred in the United States from March 1918 to the Summer of 1919, but the Spanish Flu began making headlines in the Sanborn County Herald-Times in October 1918. In the Oct. 3, 1918, issue, it was reported that members of the Jackie Band that were set to perform in Woonsocket as part of the War Trophy Train event did not perform but were sent back to the Great Lakes Training Camp due to influenza cases within the band. The event still took place, but Woonsocket’s community band played instead. It was reported in the Oct. 17, 1918, State News of the Sanborn County Herald-Times that Huron had 150 reported cases. There was also a large front-page ad from the Sanborn County Council of Defense with suggestions on preventing and treating influenza. The number one suggestion was “Avoid contact with other people so far as possible. Especially avoid crowds indoors, in street cars, theaters, motion picture houses and other places of public assemblage.”

…Read on in this week’s issue of the Sanborn Weekly Journal!

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