The coronavirus isn’t the first health challenge the area has faced. My readings of the old newspapers have indicated folks in the community have dealt with outbreaks of scarlet fever, typhoid, cholera and numerous other challenges that resulted in quarantines and health warnings.
In 1918, the influenza outbreak was probably the most deadly with the newly constructed chapel on the campus of what is now the University of Jamestown pressed into service as a hospital.
There was also tuberculosis, often known as consumption back in the early 1900s, that posed a risk in 1910. The Jamestown Alert printed instructions endorsed by the North Dakota Anti-Tuberculosis Association in its July 14, 1910, edition.
The instructions were part of pamphlet called “Living in open air” that was available through the anti-tuberculosis association.
“It emphasized the fact that outdoor sleeping is desirable for the well as for the sick,” the Alert wrote.
The article included instructions for sleeping on an open porch, in a tent in the yard or even on the roof if the person lived in an apartment building in a city.
Health officials began promoting folks living outdoors after a New York City physician became ill with tuberculosis and went out to a lake cabin in upstate New York to live out the rest of his life.
Instead, he recovered and credited his health to spending time outdoors at the lake. He wrote about his experience and it became a treatment protocol for folks battling tuberculosis.
He wrote if a “consumptive,” someone with tuberculosis, couldn’t afford treatment at a sanitarium, the person could be treated at home by staying outdoors and following any instructions the person might receive from a doctor.
Home treatment was necessary because the United States had about 25,000 hospital beds for tuberculosis patients at a time when there were about 300,000 people ill with the disease, according to The Jamestown Alert.
You might say Jamestown was fortunate with a “tuberculosis building’ at the North Dakota State Hospital.
There was also a “tuberculosis cottage” that was operated in Jamestown by some community groups in town.
I don’t know how many people in Jamestown moved out onto their porch or a tent in the yard to avoid or treat tuberculosis in 1910. I’m guessing it would have been just as comfortable in July of 1910 as living inside back in the days before air conditioning.
Tuberculosis continued as a health problem well into the 1920s.
But I doubt anyone slept outdoors in Jamestown year around for a decade to avoid catching tuberculosis.