Not the first quarantine for St. Augustine
It has been an interesting Spring to say the least, the world has changed at seemingly the turn of a dime. The Covid19 epidemic has forced us to face some harsh realities, and sadly people have lost loved ones along the way. This time of uncertainty has left a wide divide between where we are and where we should be, as a town, a state, a country, and even the world.
To open or not to open is the 2020 version of "to be or not to be." What precautions and measures should be taken, what will opening look like? When will we return to normal, and will that be a new normal, with masks and social distancing, or the familiar old normal of handshakes, hugs, and socialization. We miss our guests, they are the excitement, the lifeline, and the heart of our business.
Looking back over our city's history, there have been numerous epidemics, so this is not the first, nor will it be the last. Small Pox, Malaria, and Yellow Fever are certainly intertwined with our history.
In June of 1887, several cases of Yellow Fever in the Keys and Tampa area spread fear and quarantines in our area, at the same time Henry Flagler's grand Ponce de Leon and Alcazar hotels began to near completion the St. Augustine Board of Health declared a lockdown stating no one would be admitted to town from anywhere South of Palatka towards Tampa and beyond. Ten days later they would mandate all visitors from Jacksonville would require a clean bill of health signed by a physician before being allowed to enter St. Augustine. It is interesting to know, that even by 1887, they were not yet aware that Yellow Fever was a mosquito born illness, even though it had ravaged St. Augustine, and the South many times before. It would be three more years in 1900 before that discovery and a staggering 38 years after that before the first vaccination for Yellow Fever began.
Looking to the past provides a strange sense of comfort, as they say everything old is new again. If we follow their paths to predict our future, the short answer to when people will begin to venture out, travel, and return to our beautiful city is... soon, at least that is our hope.