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New Mexico

New Mexico

On October 4th, New Mexico reported that influenza was present in several places in the state. Within a week, the state was reporting epidemics in the state’s more densely populated areas such as Albuquerque, Gallup and Carlsbad. By late October, outbreaks were widespread and over two hundred deaths had been reported. The actual number of deaths was probably much higher than reported. By early November, the situation had begun to improve but concerns regarding influenza were still high.

Across the state, armed vigilantes refused to allow visitors from flu-ridden regions to disembark from trains, forcing them to return to their place of origin at gun-point. State officials were equally alarmed and voting was disrupted by the pandemic in early November. Turn-out was especially low and the senate seat was won by a very small margin.

Stories of the pandemic stoked the fears of state residents. In Las Vegas, New Mexico, Clara Garduno was pronounced dead from influenza. Health Department officials demanded that she be buried immediately to prevent the spread of the disease. Garduno ’s grave was left open as three of her children were still gravely ill and not expected to survive. That afternoon, two of the children died. When the undertaker began to bury the children, Frank Garduno asked to see his wife’s body one last time. To his horror, he discovered that, in his fear and haste to bury influenza victims, the doctor who had pronounced Clara dead had been mistaken. Clara had been buried alive, only to suffocate in her coffin.

By late November, the disease had begun to decline and while it remained present in the state throughout the spring of 1919, the epidemic had reached its high point in the early fall of 1918.

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