We’re a full year into the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, although the “feels like” temperature on that is 20,427 years. As we around the bend on February, there's some good news: The flu has virtually disappeared this season; reports coming in are at far lower levels than anything seen in decades. There are few reasons why this is happening, but the most prominent one is...well, us. It looks like our stringent mask wearing, social distancing, and surface cleaning that the pandemic requires has actually had a positive effect on more than one disease.
As the AP describes it, the measures listed above, that we put in place to fend off the coronavirus has helped keep us from spreading our germs to one another. This was a big factor in preventing what was feared as a potential “twindemic” — the nasty double teaming of coronavirus and the flu. The push to get more people vaccinated against flu likely helped, too.
We haven’t been able to see most people’s faces out in public for the past year and we haven’t seen their beach bodies this year, either, which is another factor that could be contributing to lower transmission rates. People are vacationing and traveling less in general, which will inevitably drastically cut down the usual expectation of 50,000 to 60,000 flu deaths that this country usually gets. Flu death data, I should note, takes a while to report.
Last year we were at 92 pediatric deaths in February, and this year's number is only 1, so when we get the final number of flu cases that includes adults this season, it will be less than the typical 600,000 to 800,000 annual hospitalizations we are used to.
“It’s beautiful,” said Denver-based Salem Hospital doctor Michelle Rasmussen, to the AP. Now, if you’re wondering why two very general words from this doctor are included here, it’s because usually you would be reading about how many people are still dying despite the efforts of these overworked and underfunded medical professionals. A simple positive quote from one is is a welcome respite. The current coronavirus death count in the US, unfortunately, hovers just over 500,000.