Washington DC History Resources

Matthew B. Gilmore

October 11, 1918

Evening Star October 11, 1918

Seventy-three deaths from influenza, the highest number recorded in any twenty-four-hour period since the start of the epidemic, were reported to the health department between noon yesterday and 12 o’clock today.

This surpassed the previous record of 59. News was not good and officials in charge made a telling admission on this day–20 days into the epidemic in Washington: “Federal and local authorities will not hazard a prediction as to how long it will take the epidemic to wear itself out. They do not believe it has reached its crest.”

The regulation follows:
“On account of the serious menace to the public health existing at this time from the epidemic of Spanish influenza and the opinion of the health officer of the District of Columbia that unheated dwellings and apartment houses contribute to the spread of this disease and are detrimental to the public health and safety. ‘”Now, therefore, by virtue of the powers invested in them by joint resolution of Congress, adopted February 26. 1S92, the Commissioners of the District of Columbia do hereby make and promulgate a special health ordinance, as follows:

New Ordinance.
“That the owner, manager, superintendent or other person in control of every apartment house, lodging house, hotel or rooming house, or other place in the District of Columbia used as a dwelling, who as principal or agent is under obligation to supply the inmates thereof with heat, is hereby required to heat such building to a temperature of not less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit and maintain it at such temperature while this ordinance remains in force, provided that a fluctuation of temperature of not more than 5 degrees from 70 degrees Fahrenheit and continuing for not more than one hour, shall not be considered a violation of this order.

$40 Daily Penalty.
“For each and every day any person liable hereunder shall fail to comply with the provisions of this ordinance he shall be liable to a fine not to exceed forty dollars ($40).”
The police will keep a close lookout for violations.

Dr. Fowler announced critical shortages:

  • nurses,
  • gravediggers
  • coffins

Dr. Mustard “spent the morning inspecting the relief stations establish¬
ed by” the service in school buildings in different sections of the city.”

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