A look at this year’s flu activity versus 2019

Health

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Influenza activity tracker maps show a stark difference between flu cases this year compared to last.

This week, Tennessee moved up within the minimal category. But the same week in 2019 had Tennessee in the high activity category and we quickly moved into the very high bracket.

“Fortunately, at the moment, influenza is kind of quiet,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease doctor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Dr. Schaffner believes mask wearing and social distancing are helping slow the spread of influenza, but he warns COVID-19 activity is higher now than ever before. The reason?

“What we think today is, COVID is both more contagious than flu, and flu is already very contagious. It also is more serious in death rate among people who are older and have underlying illnesses.”

While medical professionals are thankful we haven’t seen a twindemic, they say we aren’t in the clear yet as flu season lingers into spring. Dr. Schaffner says what wasn’t expected was the rate at which COVID-19 would move through the country.

“We didn’t think anything this large would ever happen,” said Schaffner, “Because we anticipated that our national response would be even more coordinated than it is, I’m sad to say.”

Individual protection is the best way to ward of both viruses.

“If you haven’t gotten vaccinated against flu, there’s still time. Do it soon,” said Schaffner.

Mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing are also necessary.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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