The 1918 flu caused Halloween cancellations across the US. It could happen again

As people living during the 1918 influenza pandemic approached Halloween, they had to balance a desire for fun with the risk of catching and spreading a deadly disease.

(CNN)On the list of traditions canceled by the coronavirus pandemic, Halloween might be next on the cultural hit list.

Los Angeles County, for example, has led the charge by issuing formal guidance that recommends against trick-or-treating and bans outright haunted houses, festivals and other traditional festivities that would fall under current Covid-19 health guidelines, according to the county's public health department.
The decision is history repeating itself: During the 1918 influenza pandemic, "Halloween parties in general, as well as other social functions attracting large numbers of people (were) discouraged" by LA health authorities, according to an October 30, 1918, Los Angeles Times report.
    The fall of 1918 was the second and worst wave of the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide.
      "Not only was the peak of death right before Halloween, but they were still experiencing pretty severe waves," said Carolyn Orbann, an associate teaching professor in the department of health sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
      The highest death rates occurred from October to December, possibly due to a deadlier strain of the virus and crowding in hospitals and military camps.
      "In most places in the United States, by October 31 of 1918, conditions would have been grim," said Elizabeth Outka, a professor of English at the University of Richmond and author of the book "Viral Modernism: The Influenza Pandemic and Interwar Literature."
        "A lot of things were shut down: stores, schools, churches," said Outka. "There was widespread disruption and a widespread sense that public gatherings were not a good idea."
        As the flu ravaged the globe, many US cities saw the need to restrict or ban Halloween celebrations.

        'A kill-joy of Halloween's usual festivities'

        "Oct. 31 — noiseless Halloween! Never heard of one?" wrote a reporter for a local newspaper in Santa Ana, California. "Well, San Francisco is going to have one tonight, Chief of Police White announced this afternoon. Noise disturbs influenza patients, he declared—and San Francisco has thousands of cases.
        "The board of health's order forbidding parties, further acts as a kill