Health experts are predicting that this flu season could be worse than usual amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health conducted two studies that predicted flu hospitalizations could be three times the average.
The reasoning? Researchers believe due to children returning to in-person classes and the flu being minimal last year, people were not exposed to the virus. They believe people will potentially be undermining the protection they normally have.
2020 was the mildest flu season on record with just 1,675 reported cases between September and May. It was largely due to widespread mask wearing and distancing.
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But as most states have eased restrictions, doctors fear that flu cases could go up this year.
“We know that this happens yearly. We’re sort of bracing ourselves for what that means on top of what we already see with COVID,” said Dr. Moises Gallegos, emergency medicine physician at Stanford Health Care.
Gallegos expects the Bay Area won’t be hit as hard as other parts of the country because hospitals are not at capacity. Gallegos credits Bay Area residents remasking and high COVID-vaccination rates.
“We are seeing that there’s a slight difference too in that some of these patients can go home, and they don’t have to be hospitalized,” he said. “We also feel more comfortable with what we can do in having patients observe themselves at home.” While it is difficult to forecast what will happen in any flu season.
Meanwhile, President Biden is set to unveil a new six-point plan on the pandemic Thursday, which includes public-private efforts to get more Americans vaccinated.
“Some of that will be related to access to testing, some will be related to mandates, some will be related to how we ensure kids are protected in schools. But there will be new components that, sure, will of course impact people across the country,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.