We're celebrating Thanksgiving amid a pandemic. Here's how we did it in 1918 — and what happened next - USA TODAY
Nov 21, 2020 3 mins, 36 secs
And health officials in many cities were issuing the same holiday warning: Stay home and stay safe.

– in the midst of the suffrage movement, Jim Crow and the tail end of WWI – was battling the ebbing second wave of the H1N1 influenza epidemic, also known as the Spanish flu.

San Francisco, in particular, had one of the nation's largest anti-masking campaigns, spearheaded by the Anti-Mask League of San Francisco, according to Howard Markel, a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan and co-editor-in chief of The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919.

Resistance to public health measures was not as "vociferous or widespread as today," but it was there, Markel said.

In some cities, Thanksgiving rituals brought a welcome sense of normalcy.

In Portland, a "grand reunion service" was planned for the Sunday following Thanksgiving, "in honor of the reassembling after being debarred from worship on account of the epidemic for the last five weeks." Members of various congregations were "ready to greet each other after the long absence," according to the Oregon Daily Journal on Nov.

Many health experts attributed the "renewal of the grip epidemic" to festivities on Nov.

"It is not the lifting of the closure ban that is the cause of spreading of the epidemic but the putting aside of all precautions and restrictions by the people of Denver when they celebrated on Victory Day," Denver City Manager of Health and Charity Dr.

"Owing to the influenza quarantine, the day’s festivities.

But Thanksgiving services of some sort are being held in nearly every home," an article on the front page of the Desert Evening News said.

"Because the influenza quarantine prevents public gatherings, the day in Utah is being observed quietly and without any spectacular features.".

Officials in Los Angeles were promoting a "Stay at Home Week" over Thanksgiving. The Los Angeles Times issued a call on its front page to "REMEMBER AFFLICTED THANKSGIVING DAY; Influenza Ban Is Felt," saying that "Thanksgiving Day held many attractions, although in a modified sense.".

Churches were expected to hold Thanksgiving services, but "extra precautions will be taken to guard against spread of epidemic," the Rocky Mountain News reported the day before. .

"Special pains have been taken to provide all the ventilation necessary and to make attendance at the services safe in spite of the influenza epidemic.

Cincinnati health officials "requested parents to forego children’s parties and gatherings during the Thanksgiving vacation," but the number of hospitalized patients rose on the holiday.

Schools added an extra day of vacation to the Thanksgiving holiday break to promote "a beneficial result in the influenza situation.".

The week of Thanksgiving, the number of flu cases at the city's General Hospital doubled, and, on Thanksgiving Day, city health officials reinstituted home quarantine for influenza victims and their families.

Blake spent much of his Thanksgiving evening making house calls on people ill from influenza, author Thomas Morain wrote in his 1998 book, Prairie Grass Roots.

By the fall of 1918, scientists in cities across the country were working on an influenza vaccine, and many were developed and used over the course of the pandemic?

Days before Thanksgiving, health officers in Rochester were encouraging people to obtain the vaccine available at a local health bureau.

Just as cases rose after Armistice Day celebrations, they rose again following Thanksgiving.

Paul Daily News announced that more than 40 Minneapolis schools were closed due to the flu, below the headline "SANTA CLAUS IS DOWN WITH THE FLU." Local health officials asked "moving picture show" managers to exclude children, closed Sunday schools and ordered department stores to dispense with "Santa Claus programs."?

On Christmas Eve, state health officials in Nebraska made influenza a mandatory quarantine disease, with fines ranging from $15 to $100 for violations.

Dozens of states are re-implementing coronavirus-related restrictions, and health officials are echoing the stay-at-home guidance issued decades ago.

Hutchinson, the Chicago-based curator who had COVID-19 in April, said she's planning to celebrate Thanksgiving at home with her dog and Facetime family members

Markel, in Ann Arbor, said he plans to eat Thanksgiving dinner alone, downsize from a full turkey to a sliced turkey breast, and Zoom with family


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