The Spanish Influenza of 1918 in St. Augustine

Like COVID19 Drastic Steps Were Taken to Combat the Spanish Influenza in 1918
During September, October, and November of 1918, disease vied with war for headlines in the St. Augustine Evening Record. The Surgeon General of the Army promulgated rules on how to “strengthen personal defense” against the flu:
1. Avoid needless crowding
2. Smother your coughs and sneezes
3. Your nose, not your mouth was made to breathe through
4. Remember the three Cs: a clean mouth, clean skin, and clean clothes
5. Keep cool when you walk and warm when your ride and sleep
6. Open your windows open as much as possible
7. Choose healthy food and chew it well
8. Your fate is in your hands – wash them before eating
9. Drink plenty of water
10. Don’t use a napkin, towel, cutlery, cups, glasses or plates which has be used by another person
11. Avoid tight clothes, shoes, or gloves
12. When the air is clean, breathe all you can
By early October, the Council of Defense of St. Johns County ordered
By early October, the Council of Defense of St. Johns County ordered churches, schools, theaters and closed as a precaution against the spread of the disease. Dr. A.W. Underwood, the Florida State Health Officer, ordered all members of households where influenza was present to remain off the street. Violators were to be quarantined at home. He further state that main danger is the development of pneumonia in persons with the flu.
The Associated Press reported in late September 1918 that the Spanish Flu was “sweeping through” the Army training camps. The death rate was 4.04 % for the week of September 20th compared to 2.03% the week before.
There were 20 soldiers from St. Johns County who died in World War I. All these men died of pneumonia brought on by the flu except two: no one died in combat. Burke Marie Pacetti was the first local soldier to die of pneumonia at Camp Wheeler, Georgia on November, 20, 1917. He is buried at the cemetery of Our Lady of Good Council Catholic Church. Haywood Harris, an African American soldier from Armstrong died of pneumonia while still training at Camp Devens, Massachusetts.
Camp Devens is considered “Ground Zero” for the influenza pandemic in the U.S. Forty-five thousand soldiers were crowded into Camp Devens and 100 a day were dying. The camp hospital designed for 2,000 held 8,000 patients. Harris was buried with full military honors provided by Company C of the St. Johns County Guards. William Dyson died on November 1, 1918. He was in the Army Training Corps at Stetson University in DeLand. Dyson also fell to the Spanish Flu. He was buried in the St. Augustine National Cemetery.
Due to the suspension of school classes because of the Spanish Flu epidemic in the fall of 1918, St. Johns County schools stayed in session till late June, 1919. One can only imagine how miserable the students and staff were in the heat of the summer. In the era before air conditioning, Florida schools normally did not open till late September and ended in early May.
The commencement exercises for the seventeen graduates of St. Augustine High School (described as a “large class”) took place in the auditorium of Orange Street School on June 23. To the strains of the school orchestra, graduates were awarded not only the usual diploma but also a gold medal and a laurel wreath.  The public grammar schools had their awards ceremony on June 20. St. Joseph’s Academy held their commencement for all grades on June 17.