What’s going on?
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the seasonal flu to basically vanish from the United States since people are taking more precautionary measures, the CDC said.
Here’s a look at the numbers (per USA Today):
- In 2019, from Sept. 29 to Dec. 28, there were more than 65,000 cases of influenza across the United States.
- In 2020, during the same period, there were 1,016 cases total.
Why did this happen?
According to USA Today, the drop in flu cases comes as there have been higher vaccination rates in 2020 than in previous years. And it helps that people are keeping socially distant, wearing masks and washing their hands to stay free from COVID-19.
- This was also expected. Researchers told Scientific American in the late summer that the policies used to stop the coronavirus — like washing your hands or wearing a mask — could help stop the spread of influenza, as I wrote for Deseret News.
- That said, experts told The Guardian that the United States could face a troubling flu season due to the coronavirus pandemic if people didn’t change their behavior.
- “It says that it’s more contagious and that it’s less forgiving of any lapses of these types of prevention measures,” Hooper said.
- The coronavirus is more transmissible because people can shed the virus days after first seeing symptoms, he said.