Primary Resource

"Spread of Influenza" (October 16, 1918)

In "Spread of Influenza," published by the Big Stone Gap Post on October 16, 1918, the editors report on the spread of the influenza pandemic of 1918–1919 in southwest Virginia, noting the economic impact it was already beginning to have.

Transcription from Original

So far as the state at large is concerned, the situation growing out of the spread of Spanish influenza is far from encouraging and in some sections conditions are truly distressing. Up to Sunday, a total of 60,000 cases had been reported to the State Board of Health while it was estimated the total in the entire commonwealth could hardly be less than 200,000.

No section is being spared and the disease within the last day or so has made its appearance in sections which seemingly had escaped it.

In Big Stone Gap, while the disease has not become epidemic there are quite a number of cases and there has been two or three deaths, but the local authorities are doing all in their power to check the spread of the disease, and if our people will use common sense and avoid contact with each other as much as possible and take good care of themselves we may be spared the fate of many other communities in this section. The disease is very bad throughout Lee County and dozens of people have died from the effects of it within the past ten days.

At St. Charles and that section the spread of the disease has become so great and the condition of the people so serious that the State Health Board has sent assistance there to help combat with it. Some of the mines in that section have been forced to close because there were not enough well men to operate them. At Coeburn the disease is very bad and on Monday it was reported here that the churches in the town had been turned into hospitals.

There does not seem to be any part of the entire country that is spared that dreadful malady.