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3 died in Manteca during flu epidemic of 1918-1919

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POSTED January 11, 2014 12:46 a.m.

The last time Manteca – and the rest of the United States – faced a major flu epidemic that had the potential of closing schools and quarantining victims was 96 years ago.

The severe influenza epidemic hit a peak of 202 deaths daily in the United States on Oct. 1, 1918.

Manteca’s first case was reported in October of 1918.

It prompted the Manteca City Council on Nov. 1, 1918 to pass an ordinance requiring everyone on city streets to wear a mask or face a $100 fine. All public gatherings were prohibited. Churches discounted services. All schools in the county were closed.

The teachers at the original Yosemite School – where the Sequoia Annex now stands – turned their classrooms into hospital wards. They then stayed there 24 hours a day to care of the sick.

The city sent representatives to homes where entire families were stricken to check food and clothing supplies. All groceries, linen and clothing were supplied by the city.

There were 49 families quarantined by mid-November

Public gatherings returned as Christmas approached but then there was another outbreak prompting many businesses as well as schools to again close.

There were no new cases reported in February 1919.

There were only three deaths although half of the greater Manteca community had fallen ill.

Nationally, a fourth of the country’s population became sick with 500,000 dying.

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