County, City was dealing with flu epidemic in Jan. 1962

Published 5:27 pm Friday, May 1, 2020

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During mid-January of 1962, local residents were dealing with influenza, and some of the warnings and advice passed out by Dr. J.M. Willett, Director of the Carter County Health Center, sounded much like health warnings for today’s coronavirus pandemic: Avoid crowds and exposure as much as possible. Avoid contact with other people. Go home, go to bed, and don’t try to wear it out. Practice hand washing and good personal hygiene. Be cautious about returning to activity.
The article from the Elizabethton STAR noted that while fewer cases of the flu had been reported in Carter County that week, the number of cases increased sharply throughout Tennessee the second week of January, 1962. “Only 20 cases were reported in the county last week, compared to 40 the week before, and 67 for one week in mid-December. Last week, 1,654 cases were reported throughout the state, 300 more than for the same week last year,” reported Dr. Willettt.
He also noted in the same article that influenza when it hits an area has a tendency to spread rapidly. “It tends to go in waves. Thus, we would see a large number of cases in another section of the country and then shortly this increase would be reflected here,” said Dr. Willett.
“There is no unusual increase in the number of influenza cases in Carter County at this time. However certain measures may help to prevent a few cases which we always have with us and would cut down the number of epidemic cases if an epidemic should arrive,” Dr. Willett said.
Schools were dismissed in Carter County for three days the second week of January due to the number of absenteeisms from the flu.
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We are reminded more and more that there is nothing new that happens that hasn’t happened before.

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