11. Cincinnati took early steps to control the spread of the flu
Health officials in Cincinnati took note of the rapid spread of the flu down the East Coast from Boston in late September, 1918, and initiated steps to protect the citizens of the city. On October 3 its Health Commissioner, William Peters, banned non-essential hospital visits. The city closed schools, theaters, parks, churches, and initiated a ban on public and private meetings. Sunday schools were closed despite the protests of the large Catholic community in the city. The city allowed one major industry to remain open. Saloons, taverns, and brewery taprooms remained open for business, though alcohol purchased was carry-out only. On premises consumption was banned.
By October 15 the city’s fatality rate from the flu skyrocketed. Peters contracted the flu, though he recovered. At least 1,700 Cincinnati citizens were not so lucky. Resentment against the city’s large German population festered, and acts of violence against German businesses and churches occurred. On Armistice Day Cincinnati reopened businesses and schools, and another sharp increase in cases struck the city’s children. The city banned children from stores, theaters, streetcars, and parks. The schools again closed, and remained so until just after Christmas, following a drop in new cases. By January, 1919, the worst was over in the city.