Spanish Influenza 1918

Timeline created by hbfrohlich
In History
  • Theaters, Churches, and Public Gatherings Banned

    Much like the response to COVID-19, Utahns had an early response to the Spanish Flu when it came to banning public gatherings.
  • Utah Officials Quit Campaigns

    Many efforts to campaign were thwarted by the flu, which led many Utah officials to simply quit campaigning that fall. Today we are fortunate to be able to vote by mail, and to allow candidates to get out their messages through radio and Internet.
  • 117 Deaths in Four Weeks

    Due in part to statewide celebration of the pending end to WWI, Spanish Flu spread quickly in Utah, with 1,500 cases and 117 deaths in four weeks. Unlike COVID-19, nearly every community in Utah was infected with the disease.
  • "We had to play by ourselves, and if we went anywhere, we wore masks,"

    This is a quote from a survivor of the Spanish Flu epidemic, Twila Peck, who was a child at the time. She remembers seeing bodies laid out, awaiting burial. Despite the morbid aspects of her experience, what she went through was similar to children today, with schools canceled and isolation from friends.
  • Armistice Day

    With news of the conclusion of the war, celebration was inevitable, and a spike in outbreaks was seen. There was no comparable incident in the COVID-19 outbreak, except perhaps the cancellation of most spring celebrations like Easter and Mother's Day, which was hard for most Utahns and undoubtedly led to some lax enforcement of quarantine rules.
  • Indian Reservations Hit Hard by Spanish Flu

    An estimated 5,300 Native Americans died of the Spanish Flu in Utah. This is disproportionate to the white population of Utah who were killed, approximately 3,000. We see a similar situation in 2020, with Indian Reservations being hit particularly hard, for very much the same reasons as 1918, which is sobering.
  • LDS General Conference Postponed

    In order to avoid another spike in the flu, LDS leaders decided to postpone the annual conference until summer. This was undoubtedly wise, as the previous prophet had died in the fall, possibly from complications due to the flu. His burial was private to contain spread of the disease. This echoes what has happened in 2020, as many funerals (for coronavirus patients but more commonly for those who died of other causes) have been online or with family-only.
  • Utah has Second-Highest Rate of Death in the Country

    Despite early action with closing schools and public gatherings, and despite attempts to enforce social distancing by law enforcement, Utah had a hard time complying with these rules during the Spanish flu epidemic. There were spikes in cases following armistice day, Christmas day, and the return of troops in January. Inevitably more people would die following these events. This is a great reminder that social distancing does work, even if it seems inconvenient or a drag on our economy.
  • Utah Sees Last of Spanish Flu

    After the initial outbreak, Utahns experienced ebbs and flows throughout the epidemic. Despite several serious spikes in cases and deaths, the virus had petered out by spring of 1920. This is a sobering reminder to us today that the coronavirus could similarly spike in the fall, especially with the advent of flu season and an increase in social gatherings during that time.