Today’s current events have historic significance around the globe and in our own community.
As the primary organization that documents Coronado’s history, the Coronado Historical Association began collecting and archiving our community’s response to COVID-19. At the time, this collection was thought to be something that would capture a momentary, passing time in our history. As the world around us evolved, we came to realize this moment would change the near future and be one to remember. Around that time, Coronado’s school children transitioned to virtual classrooms. Despite no longer meeting in person, local students’ learning and creativity didn’t stop.
Students and children of all ages used art and writing to express their feelings and thoughts during this eventful time in our history. CHA worked with local retired teacher Sharon Raffer and Coronado teachers Cynthia Fuhrmann, Karrie Jackson, and Jean Pehrsson to collect materials that documented the response of our community to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and to the national dialogue about racism. This exhibit pairs student art and writing with some of the many photos and videos donated by community members to CHA’s COVID19 History Collection. CHA continues to actively collect our community’s history happening now. Learn more by visiting the Contribute page or www.coronadohistory.org.
Many people throughout Coronado contributed time, energy, and ideas to produce this exhibit. Your dedication made this exhibit possible. Thank you.
Coronado Unified School District
Coronado Recreation Department
Coronado Police Department
Financial support is provided in part by the City of Coronado Community Grant Program.
Looking to the Past
As we document local history, we look back to similar experiences in Coronado’s history.
How was Coronado affected by the last pandemic, one hundred years ago?
The Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918-1920 was caused by an H1N1 virus thought to have come from an avian origin. According to the 1920 census, Coronado had a population of about 3,289. Health Officer, Dr. Lorini, was quoted as saying: “Coronado has been hitherto remarkably free from the prevailing epidemic, and the co-operation of the general public, and particularly of mothers of school children, is needed for the perpetuation of this desirable situation” [Coronado newspaper, The Strand, October 26, 1918]
Coronado, like San Diego, did undergo a quarantine. Under the article heading “The Flu Situation” in the December 14, 1918 newspaper, “Coronado suffered a touch of the quarantine last Saturday, when restrictions similar to those in force in San Diego since the previous Thursday at midnight went into effect. Marshal O’Donnell, acting under instructions from the Health Officer, notified all business houses, except those handling the necessaries of life to close Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and this request was obeyed.”
The military bases also went into quarantine. There was speculation that the virus was introduced into San Diego by someone at the Navy training facility which was housed in Balboa Park back then. Shortly after, North Island was put into quarantine. Whether to open up schools or not was a consideration back then as it is today. In the November 2, 1918 issue of The Strand, an article stated that, at the instruction of the school board, public schools would remain closed until further notice. [Vol. 7, No. 25].
Dr. Lorini stated that “we are justified in nursing a feeling of optimism, rather than one of pessimism and apprehension … Keep cool, and if attacked by suspicious symptoms, go to bed, and have yourself attended to without delay.” [The Strand, Vol. 7, No. 32] Fortunately, during the 1918-1920 period, Coronado appeared to be on the edge of the epidemic battleground. With the small population, the fresh ocean air, the geographical distance from the mainland, and the willingness to cooperate with the board of health, Coronado’s citizens survived the pandemic.
*Excerpts from “Coronado’s Experience with the 1918 Spanish Influenza Epidemic” by CHA volunteer and local author June Mac Leod.