Vignette > Flu Epidemic

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church – Outdoor Service 1919

Between the spring of 1918 and the summer of 1919, 25% of the US population became sick from the so-called Spanish flu—675,000 died. In November 1918, Mill Valley counted 84 cases or about 3% of the population.  In San Francisco the rate was about 4%.  In San Anselmo, 70 out of 120 orphans were down with the influenza at the Presbyterian Orphanage. Health authorities advised wearing a white cotton cloth mask at all times in public. Masks were mandated for women working in the Red Cross rooms at the Outdoor Art Club where they produced mufflers, socks, sweaters, bandages, compresses, etc. for soldiers and sailors fighting in the Great War. By January 1919 the number of cases in Mill Valley had decreased to 24. Elementary schools were closed between October 1918 and February 1919. During the epidemic, church services were held out of doors at Our Lady Of Mount Carmel Church (see photo). Among those who died from the “Spanish Flu” was the highly esteemed long term Mill Valley resident, 50-year old Mrs. Eva A. Finn.   The influenza pandemic infected an estimated 500 million people across the world killing 50 to 100 million of them between January 1918 and December 1920.