NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee is topping the charts for its number of flu cases and doctors predicted cases would climb even higher after Thanksgiving.
Now, a week after the holiday, their predictions are proving accurate.
Dr. Ty Babcock, CEO of Complete Health Partners, said the week has been “incredibly” and “consistently” busy. He said it’s been their busiest week of the year.
On Monday, Dr. Babcock said they tied their record for Urgent Care patients in a single-day at about 70 patients.
“We certainly anticipate that because people traveled and gathered together without their masks during Thanksgiving, that Thanksgiving contributed to this continuing surge,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
The latest data from Walgreens released before Thanksgiving places Tennessee as the number two state in the country for number of flu cases. Walgreens also reports Knoxville, Chattanooga, the Tri Cities, and Nashville among the top 10 cities in the country for flu cases.
“It’s very difficult to predict influenza and this year it happened to start fiercely and early in the Southeast. There are other times, other seasons where it starts first in other parts of the country,” Dr. Schaffner said. “I think it was just a matter of bad luck that we got hit first, and we’ve been hit very hard. Of course, I think some of the lack of vaccination has contributed to the veracity of this early flu.”
The CDC updated their data on the morning of Friday, Dec. 2. The number of states at the highest activity level for flu cases increased from three to 12.
Tennessee is still on that list, with the neighboring state of Kentucky joining the group.
“I’m asked all the time, ‘Will this persist? Are we going to have an extended influenza season?’ Predicting flu is a hazardous business, so I’ll just have to say we’ll have to wait and see,” said Dr. Schaffner.
Even if you’ve already had the flu, Dr. Schaffner encourages you to get the vaccine to protect yourself against different strains.