The Spanish flu lasted from 1918 to 1920 and infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide. The U.S. states were affected, and all 50 states had deaths as a result of this flu epidemic.
It is important to remember that all numbers of deaths are estimates. There is no way that completely accurate numbers could be kept during the time period. Still, these estimates allow us to compare the impact of the Spanish flu on each state.
Pennsylvania was by far the state with the highest death toll. There were an estimated 60,000 Pennsylvania residents that dies during the pandemic. This is almost double the number of deaths of the next highest state, Georgia, which had 30,768 deaths. Other states with over 20,000 deaths were Illinois and New York.
Seven states had death toll between 10,000 and 20,000 deaths as a result of the Spanish flu. These states were California (16,773), Virginia (15,679), Missouri (15,000), South Carolina (14,250), North Carolina (13,700), Indiana (10,000), and Minnesota (10,000).
While data for Alabama is unrecorded, it is known to be very high. Cases and deaths erupted too quickly to maintain accurate records.
It makes sense that many of these states would have higher numbers of deaths. They were states with large populations or that had high concentrations of people in urban areas. This concentration of people make it easier for viruses and other illnesses to spread.
Most states had between 2,000 and 10,000 deaths during the 1918-1920 time period resulting from Spanish flu infection. However, because of smaller populations and lesser population density, some states had much lower death numbers.
South Dakota (1,847), Vermont (1,700), Michigan (1,688), Delaware (1,500), and New Mexico (1,000) each had between 1,000 and 2,000 deaths. Again, these numbers may not be completely accurate, as some sources place Delaware’s death toll as high as 2,000.
The only state with less than 1,000 deaths is also the state with the fewest deaths in the country. Wyoming had only 780 deaths during the Spanish flu pandemic. Wyoming had a population that was spread out, which made the flu slow to spread. Fewer infections obviously result in fewer deaths.
Deaths in 1918
|Nebraska||2,800||Actual estimates range from 2,800 to 7,500, as Nebraska’s reporting capacity was significantly compromised.|
|Arizona||2,000||2,000 is considered the minumum count, as many deaths are believed to have gone uncounted.|
|Delaware||1,500||Some sources place totals as high as 2,000.|