The coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on, having recently become the deadliest outbreak in the history of the United States. And now, with flu season right around the corner, experts are worried about what could come next.

“We are bracing ourselves for an awfully busy winter ahead,” said Dr. Megan Ranney, an associate dean of public health at Brown University, according to CNN.

Data from Johns Hopkins University show the U.S. is averaging more than 2,000 deaths per day from COVID-19. Hospitals are being bombarded with new cases every day. In Idaho, hospitals have started to ration care through crisis standards. Utah is trying to avoid doing the same.

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All of this is weeks before the flu season begins in earnest. Last year’s flu season wasn’t all that bad compared to previous years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were about 1,675 cases of influenza from Sept. 28, 2020, to May 22 for the entire United States, which is the typical timeline for the flu season. That was a record-low of flu cases in the U.S. The CDC suggested that the flu pretty much vanished in 2020.

Ranney told CNN the 2020 flu season was relatively mild because people were still wearing their masks and social distancing. But in 2021, those mitigations methods are few and far between, which means the flu surge could happen.

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“Let’s be clear on why flu cases were so low last year, it’s because we were all masked and we were all distancing,” Ranney told CNN. “Those things are not being done anymore in the vast majority of the country.”

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In fact, experts said back in August that the upcoming flu season will resemble a typical flu season, especially since there’s in-person learning at schools and loosened mask mandates across the country, according to USA Today.

The flu will enter the American foray as the country is already battling the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, too.

“We were worried about the ‘twindemic’ last year and we face the same threat this year,” Dr. Daniel Solomon, a physician in the division of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told USA Today. “COVID-19 is likely to continue, and we face the threat of dual respiratory viruses that could put a strain on our health care system.”

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