WACO, Texas – According to the CDC, there were only two reported positive flu cases from public health labs last week, and only 202 since September 27.
At Ascension Providence, Dr. Alexandra Jones Adesina says they are only seeing about a one to two percent positivity rate from their flu tests – a far cry from their normal rates – which she says is usually between 15 and 18 percent.
“The patients coming in with moderate to severe symptoms we are definitely seeing, and we’re testing them for both COVID and flu. We just don’t see many tests coming back positive for flu,” Jones Adesina said. “Most of the time it’s either COVID, or some other cold process that’s not the flu.”
COVID-19 restrictions may be to thank for keeping the flu almost completely off the radar this year.
“We’re doing more aggressive precautions to prevent spread of infection overall,” Jones Adesina said. “Masking is helping a lot. Social distancing is helping a lot. And I think we’re all just doing a better job of being cautious of what we’re touching and washing our hands when we do touch things that could potentially cause an infection.”
With the attention on COVID, the flu isn’t the only illness doctors have seen hit a steep decline in early 2021.
“We typically see a large amount of strep throat cases this time of year,” Jones Adesina said. “It’s certainly fewer, in my experience, than what we have typically seen in a cold and flu season.”
With numbers way down, it allows hospital staff to focus on patients with more pressing and unpredictable illnesses.
“People can certainly become very ill from the flu, and quite sick from strep throat,” Jones Adesina said. “But it’s nice that we kind of get to focus most of that attention towards the patients that have COVID and have severe infections from that.”