NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Health officials are worried about an uptick in flu cases following Thanksgiving, and several local hospitals and walk-in clinics have already started to see the increase.
Tennessee remains one of three states at the very top of the CDC list when it comes to the number of flu cases. Local hospitals are getting hit especially hard.
“We’re just seeing cases that are continuing to go up and I think with Thanksgiving just passing, we’ll probably see them increase for the next week or maybe a couple of weeks,” said Dr. Todd Rice, Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Dr. Ty Babcock is the CEO of Complete Health Partners. He said their walk-in clinic has continued to be completely full, even more so since the holiday.
“I think that seems to be the case across the board in the ERs, as well as other people I’ve talked to in other urgent care facilities that it really seemed like it was maybe starting to level off, and then this week, obviously it’s early in the week but after Thanksgiving, it really seems to have picked up even more,” Dr. Babcock said.
Last week, Tennessee joined four other states and the District of Columbia in the CDC’s highest category for the flu. This week, only Tennessee and Texas remain at the very top, with New Mexico joining the list this time around.
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“Nashville and Memphis are the two biggest cities, so there’s a lot less social distancing, there are a lot more opportunities for people to be close to each other and spread the virus,” Dr. Rice said.
The latest CDC map breaks down the state’s heaviest areas with flu cases, and it’s showing the Nashville, Franklin, and Murfreesboro areas, along with Memphis, as the main areas of concern.
“I think that’s why we’re seeing a fair amount of it in those areas. It’s just not quite as socially distanced as some of the other places in the state,” Dr. Rice said.
Dr. Rice said in the last couple of weeks, cases have steadily increased and more and more patients are being hospitalized with severe influenza. “It’s certainly something that has caught our attention and we’re keeping an eye on it because when a third of one of our floors is flu patients, it kind of makes you take notice.”
It takes the flu vaccination about two weeks to get full immunity, so if you’re planning a trip for Christmas, Dr. Rice and Dr. Babcock suggest getting it soon if you haven’t already.