The flu spiked in the United States after Thanksgiving, data shows

The flu spiked in the United States after Thanksgiving, data shows


The flu surged in the United States after Thanksgiving, bringing the worst week yet of the season to hit the county very early. More than a third of all flu hospitalizations and deaths so far this season have occurred in just the past week, and the number of cases has also jumped nearly as much.

New data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there have been at least 13 million cases, 120,000 hospitalizations and 7,300 deaths from the flu this season.

The latest update records data through Dec. 3 and is the first full week of data after Thanksgiving. It shows respiratory virus activity remains elevated across the country amid a flu season that has hit the country early and hard – and health officials have warned that gathering indoors during the holidays may lead to an increase in the number of cases.

All but seven states have “high” or “very high” activity of the respiratory virus, according to the CDC. States with moderate, low, or minimal activity are Alaska, Hawaii, Michigan, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia.

There were about 26 flu hospitalizations for every 100,000 people — a rate that hasn’t been this high at this point in the season in more than a decade.

Nearly 26,000 people were admitted to hospital with the flu last week, about 6,000 more beds than the week before. About 1 in 4 lab tests were positive for the flu last week, and nearly 1 in 10 deaths were caused by pneumonia, flu or Covid-19 – well above the epidemic threshold of about 6%.

Data from Walgreens that tracks prescriptions for Tamiflu and other flu drugs suggests flu outbreaks have spread from El Paso to Southwest Virginia.

Last year’s flu season was relatively mild, but the number of flu cases, hospitalizations and deaths recorded so far in the current season has already exceeded the total number recorded during the entire last season.

Hospitals are now more full than they were during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a CNN analysis of data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

About 80% of hospital beds are in use across the country, an increase of 8 percentage points over the past two weeks.

Hospitals have been required to report capacity information since mid-2020 as part of federal efforts to monitor the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hospitals were more than 70% full most of that time. But they were only 80% full at one other time: in January, during Omicron’s peak in the US. In January, about a quarter of hospital beds were used for patients with Covid-19. But now only about 6% of beds are being used for Covid-19 patients, according to HHS data.

In a statement Friday, Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient safety at the American Hospital Association, said the influx of flu patients is a key reason hospitals are filling up, but they are also dealing with RSV and illness in people who have delayed care during pandemics.

“The labor shortage has not only made hospitals more challenged, but has also reduced the number of patients who can be cared for in nursing homes and other post-acute care facilities,” the statement said. “Therefore, patients spend more time in hospitals, waiting for discharge to the next level of care and limiting our ability to make a bed available to a patient who really needs to be hospitalized.”

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