A national story reported that there was a rise in diphtheria cases and that the “ancient child-killer” could easily spread across the U.S., especially in areas where at least half the children were not immunized. San Antonio, Texas, which listed only half its children as immunized, had reported 66 cases of the disease in 1970, 30 of which were in the current month. Twenty-three states still did not require new schoolchildren to have the “DPT” vaccine. Locally, a Douglas County health official said that the predicted rise in diphtheria posed no threat to Lawrence, as the community was “pretty thoroughly immunized” against the disease. Diphtheria was characterized by a thick, leather-like “false membrane” which formed in the lining of the throat and other areas of the respiratory tract. Death was described as occurring by choking or possibly by damage to other organs, such as the heart.
City Manager Buford Watson was in the final stages of instituting an “Action Desk” at City Hall. Located just inside the main door, the desk would be staffed eight hours per day and would provide a place for Lawrence residents to get answers to questions not easily answered by department heads or staff members.