How Sioux City was impacted in previous epidemics

Local News

The coronavirus pandemic is history-making. So too, were two epidemics blanketing Siouxland decades ago.

SIOUX CITY, IOWA (KCAU) –The coronavirus pandemic is history-making. So too, were two epidemics blanketing Siouxland decades ago.

“Sioux City itself, between in 9 months so from September 1918 to May 1919, 451 Sioux City residents or Woodbury County residents shall we say, died of the flu,” said Matt Anderson, with the Sioux City Public Museum.

Across the nation, 675,000 Americans died after contracting the Spanish Flu. Just like today, those living in the early 1900s were forced to find a new normal.

“If you read through it, it outlines some of the major things that have been instituted right now. Things like social distancing were very a part of the program in 1918 and, of course, there were instances where people didn’t obey them and all that kind of thing,” said Anderson.

Yet another similarity to our current day fight against coronavirus. Like today, Siouxland’s rural, spread out population likely played a part in limiting the spread of the flu. Nationally, the Spanish Flu hit hard in September, but in Sioux City it was a month later in October when many cases began to spread across Woodbury County.

“Sioux City being a little more isolated, it’s kind of behind the national curve, the global curve, so it really struck here hard in October where it struck in September in other places,” said Anderson.

As cases declined, Sioux City slowly return to normal. The 1950s brought another epidemic to the city.

The Polio epidemic hit Sioux City hard with at least 43 deaths being reported in the Siouxland area. As cases began to decline in September of 1952, health officials reopened the state and students returned to regular schooling.

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