By HEATHER ROBERTS
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
This time last year, Deschutes County Public Health was reporting an early spike of influenza cases and was preparing for a bad flu season.
That’s not the case this year.
“In the time that Deschutes County Health Services has been doing the Weekly Flu Report, this is the lowest year of flu cases on record,” Morgan Emerson, with Deschutes County Public Health, said.
Statewide and across the country, reported cases of influenza are also incredibly low. Emerson says we can chalk it up to a positive side effect of the pandemic.
“The precautions that we’re taking for COVID – like distancing, washing our hands and wearing a mask are all helpful in preventing the spread of Influenza,” Emerson said.
Emerson also believes flu cases are down due to an effective vaccine.
“On a national level, more people than ever have gotten the flu vaccine, which is great news,” Emerson said. “And it’s not too late to get the flu vaccine.”
There has been some online speculation that health officials are lumping flu in with unconfirmed COVID cases. But Emerson said the “Coronavirus Presumptive Positive” is a pretty high bar.
“That means that someone was in direct contact with someone who did test positive for COVID-19 and they have two symptoms, and they have cleared out that they don’t have another likely source of infection like influenza.”
And tests for flu and COVID-19 are different and reported separately by labs, Emerson said.
It is possible we’ll still see an uptick in flu later in the season, but it’s unlikely to hit like in past years.