New York – Flu, COVID-19, and RSV cases continue to put a lot of pressure on hospitals across the country, and health officials expect to see an increase in cases in the upcoming period. The flu season started earlier than usual this year, and combined with the COVID-19 cases and RSV, the country is facing a so-called “Tripledemic”.
This year’s flu vaccine is a great match for the current flu strain, and getting vaccinated against the flu is the best thing you can do to prevent infection. Flu cases in some areas nationwide have risen to the point that health experts are urging people to wear face masks to stay protected and prevent further virus spread. The state of New York follows the nationwide trend in terms of flu cases per 100,000 people, but the flu in some areas is spreading much faster than others.
The most recent data provided by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) shows about 402 flu cases per 100,000 people in Central New York in the week ending Dec. 10, which is much more than any other region statewide. About 23 flu cases per 100,000 people have been hospitalized in Central New York, which again is higher compared to other regions across the state.
So far, there have been a total of 30 pediatric flu deaths across the nation, per the official data. In New York, a total of four pediatric deaths have been reported since the start of the flu season, but it remains unknown where these deaths have occurred.
Face mask guidelines are once again in effect in many New York areas, as flu and COVID-19 are on the rise just before Christmas. As of Sunday, Dec. 11, a total of 10 New York counties were in the orange zone with “high” COVID levels. Per the CDC guidelines, people living in these counties are highly recommended to wear face masks indoors to prevent the spread of the virus. Wearing a face mask will lower the spread of flu and COVID-19, and according to experts, this is pretty important right now because a surge in cases is expected after Christmas after the family indoor gatherings.
Week over week data shows that both flu infection and hospitalizations rates increased. According to the NYSDOH, a 6% increase in flu-related hospitalizations and a 19% increase in lab-confirmed flu cases were reported in the week ending Dec. 10 compared to the week before. Most of the lab-confirmed cases are influenza type A. The most prevalent strains are H3N2 and H1N1.
The number of people infected with flu is the highest in a decade, and health experts blame the lockdowns and closures since the start of the pandemic for this trend. Across the nation, there have been about 150,000 flu-related hospitalizations and more than 9,000 flu-related deaths so far this season, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here is a list of several things everyone should do to stay healthy during the flu season:
- Get vaccinated: Getting a flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against the flu. It is especially important for people at high risk of serious complications from the flu, including young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions. Americans ages 6 months and older are eligible to get vaccinated against flu.
- Wash your hands frequently: Proper hand hygiene is essential to preventing the spread of the flu and other infections. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
- Avoid close contact with sick people: If you are sick, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading the flu to others. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and try to keep a distance of at least 6 feet.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze: Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into your elbow if a tissue is not available. This helps prevent the spread of germs.
- Avoid touching your face: Germs can enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth. Try to avoid touching your face as much as possible to reduce the risk of getting sick.