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Illinois Flu Levels
It’s known that winter has historically been flu season, and this year is no exception for Illinois. This flu season seemed to have kickstarted early. Usually, the winter influenza season doesn’t start until December or January, yet this was an exception especially due to the simultaneous spread of other viruses like COVID-19.
Recently, the state has reached flu activity being “very high,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Weekly Influenza Report.
The levels were low this year up until October 22, when they got marked up to “moderate”. The Flu levels stayed moderate for about two weeks until they spiked up to “high” on the week of November 5. After that on the week of November 26, just last week, a “very high” status was reached.
Dr. Jonathan Pinksy, the medical director of Infection Control stated that in the last week they had four times as many influenza cases as they did at the peak three years ago. He explains how those admitted to the hospital due to contracting the virus have mostly been elderly with underlying health conditions.
Influenza has also been on the rise, especially in Chicago. According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, the city has hit sharp increases as of this past Friday, compared to other years.
CDPH commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady, announced that while the influenza levels were expected to become high, they still want to put their priority on preventing COVID-19 levels from becoming high.
Surges in Other States
Yet, Illinois isn’t the only state being affected by the surge in flu. Illinois is just one out of the 44 states that the CDC reported high or very high activity.
Health officials stated this past Friday that the amount of outpatient medical visits last week was 7.5%. That’s just as high as the peak of the flu season in 2017-2018 and higher than anything since then. Although all data was based on symptoms like sore throats or coughing, so it could be other respiratory illnesses. But even so, this is not a good sign for the near future as the levels are already so high.
The CDC estimated that this season, from October 1 to November 26, there have been 78,000 flu hospitalizations and 4,500 flu deaths.
The CDC has recommended many ways to stay safe during this season of sickness.
It’s recommended for all above six months old to get their flu shot vaccine to prevent severe illness or death. Especially young children and the elderly, who are at the highest risk. Also to stay away from others when feeling ill to prevent the spread. Not only when feeling ill, but also avoiding close contact with those who are sick.
While sick, and when not, make sure to be covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing with a tissue. The spread of the flu is through droplets from when sneezing, coughing, or even talking.
Cleaning and washing hands is a major way to protect from unwanted germs. Making sure to wash frequently with soap and water. Or even using hand sanitizer when not able to wash.
The virus is contracted by contact with your mouth, nose, and eyes. Someone who has the Influenza virus can put droplets onto objects or surfaces and once touched can be spread to others. That’s why it’s best to avoid touching the mouth, nose, and eyes, to prevent it from being spread to yourself.
These aren’t the only ways to stay safe. Also practicing other regular good health habits is helpful. Things like sleeping well, eating a well-balanced meal, drinking plenty of water, staying active, and being less stressed.
It’s also important to clean surfaces well and frequently, whether at home, school, or work, to prevent germs from staying on surfaces.
Written by Alyssa Calderon
NBC Chicago: Flu Activity Now ‘Very High’ in Both Illinois and Indiana, CDC Says
ABC 7: Illinois flu hospitalizations surge alongside cases amid holidays
WGN-TV: Flu season worsens as Illinois among 44 states reporting high activity
CDC: Healthy Habits to Help Protect Against Flu
Featured Image by by Steve Ellmore Courtesy of Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Marco Verch Professional Photographer Flickr Page – Creative Commons License