Colorado History: The Influenza Outbreak of 1918-19
In 1818-1819 the flu killed more than half a million Americans nationwide and Colorado was not spared.
From September 1918 to June of 1919, what became known as the "Spanish Flu" killed nearly 7,800 people in Colorado, with over 1,500 in Denver alone.
The Spanish Flu was so named because earlier the flu had broken out in Spain, causing 260,000 deaths there as well.
Officials at the time recommended washing your hands and covering your coughs, thinking that would slowly eliminate the flu from the areas affected. But what they did not do in many cases was restrict the gathering of people in places like cable cars, theaters and so forth. It is believed this was how the flu kept spreading.
Places like Gunnison, for example, quarantined the entire town until the epidemic passed. But in other areas, schools, churches and other public gathering places were closed.
As summer approached in 1919, the epidemic was receding and places began to reopen.
The "Spanish Flu" ended up killing more Americans than World War I and World War II combined.