COVID safety is helping battle the flu

Do you know anyone who had influenza this past year? Chances are you do not.

By

Opinion

March 1, 2021 - 9:07 AM

Do you know anyone who had influenza this past year? Chances are you do not. Sure, plenty of people had the “stomach flu” with vomiting and diarrhea, otherwise known as gastroenteritis. Some people had colds and others had COVID-19. But cases of influenza this season have been exceptionally low.

Starting a year ago, when someone came to my clinic with symptoms of influenza, including fevers, chills, muscle aches, or respiratory symptoms, we tested for both COVID-19 and for influenza. At first, every COVID-19 test was negative while many influenza tests were positive. However, with social distancing, mask wearing, washing hands, and people staying home when they were sick, influenza cases plummeted faster than I have ever seen. And this phenomenon was not isolated to my clinic. 

According to the CDC, data shows influenza virus circulation in the United States declined sharply within two weeks of the COVID-19 emergency declaration and widespread implementation of community mitigation measures, including school closures, social distancing, and mask wearing, although the exact timing varied by location.

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