Saturday, October 16, 2010

16 October 1918: Spanish Influenza Pandemic Postpones October Term

On this day in 1918, Judge Andrew J. Cobb of the Western Circuit issued an order to delay the October term of court for the second time. The initial postponement moved the term from the second to third Monday of October, but was advised by the Athens Board of Health to move the opening date again because "the danger of the spread of the disease" was not over.

The Judge's order stated:
It being the opinion of the chairman of the Board of Health of the city, in which the presiding judge concurs, that it is wisest that for the present all the assemblages of persons in the unusual numbers within walls should be avoided, it is ordered: 
1. That the grand jurors, traverse jurors and tales jurors drawn for service on October 14, 1918, report for duty on November 4, 1918.
 2. That traverse and tales jurors drawn for October 21, 1918, be served to attend on November 11, 1918.
3. The civil calendar arranged for the week beginning October 14, 1918, is transferred to the week beginning November 4, 1918, and the cases thereon will be in order for the corresponding days of the week. 
4. All criminal cases, including those where parties are in jail as well as under bond, will be in order for trial on Monday, November 11, 1918.
5. Nothing in this order shall prevent the transaction of any business either at chambers or in-term where the services of a jury are not required and the attendance of witnesses is not necessary.
6. Let this order be entered on the minutes and published in the daily papers of the city.
This October 16, 1918, in open court.
Judge S. C. W. C.

At the time, the Athens papers did not report many deaths from the flu epidemic, but many advertisements for medical cures disgused as articles about the disease "rapidly spreading" were published. Among the largest and long-winded advertisements were for the new invention of Vick's VapoRub, with long explanations of the symptoms and treatment of the Spanish flu, as well as the ways to avoid the disease and how to use VapoRub to treat symptoms of flu and cold. It was one of the few advertisements that overtly told the public that the flu was "no occasion for panic."

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