History & Tourism

Mansfield Faces A Pandemic: November 1918

1 Nov , 2020  

By 1812Blockhouse

On this very day back in 1918, the order went out. All Mansfield businesses were required to close promptly at 7:00 PM each evening.

The city of Mansfield in 1918 was a bustling place. By the time of the 1920 census, the city would have grown over 34% in the previous ten years. The manufacturing base was firmly established, and the city was a market center for the area.

Something alarming was happening, however, something which has eerie parallels to the present COVID-19 impact on Mansfield and Richland County.

In an article in the November 1 Mansfield Shield, the word went out. “Epidemic conditions not improving,” the headline read, “and more stringent measures to be taken.”

The Spanish Flu Pandemic, also known as the 1918 Flu Pandemic, had been raging worldwide since February and would last until April of 1920. It impacted a third of the world’s population in four identifiable waves. Despite its name, the first detection of illness and mortality of the epidemic actually took place at Fort Riley, Kansas.

An overview of the epidemic’s impact on Ohio can be found here:

The Spanish Influenza Comes to Ohio

By Karen Robertson This blog post will take a look at a historic pandemic in Ohio. As our lives change to fight COVID-19, this can be a tough topic. Please put this post aside for later if the topic is too heavy to carry at the moment.

The piece profiled decisions of the local health board to deal with the local situation which had, the day before, resulted in 14 new cases and which, in the month of October, had resulted in 94 deaths.

Among the measures announced for Mansfield:

  • All businesses were to close at 7:00 PM beginning on November 1. The penalty for violating this order would be a fine not to exceed $100, up to 90 days in jail, or both.
  • All public meetings were prohibited.
  • Factories and stores were not allowed to have anyone inside who had been stricken.
  • Floors in all business places were to be washed at least once per day with a solution of chloride of lime.
  • Physicians were to report all cases of influenza within 24 hours.
  • Strict quarantine would be observed for all impacted houses with cards attached to each.

The official October report shared that there had been 1,370 local cases of influenza and 300 cases of pneumonia, 94 deaths, and 67 hospital admissions. The local Red Cross canteen chapter had distributed some 1,286 meals to affected households.

Sources: Mansfield Shield; Wikipedia; Photo: Public Domain

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