Where’s the flu?

The month of February is normally the peak for the flu season across America. Not this year. At the time of year when hospital emergency rooms and physician's offices are jammed with achy, sniffling people, that just hasn’t materialized.

Here in Michigan, the State Health and Human Services Department reports that since last October, the typical start of the flu season, there have been 7 flu-related hospitalizations statewide. Yes. 7.

So what’s causing the flu to stay away? COVID-19? Maybe. The Associated Press reports some scientists are theorizing that COVID has literally muscled its way into the forefront, leaving the flu to take a back seat.

Dr. Arnold Monto is a flu expert at the University of Michigan. He says there is a strong likelihood that the coronavirus is pushing other maladies aside. While scientists don’t fully understand how it happens, Dr. Monto says this has happened before when dominant flu strains have sort of moved into the forefront, leaving weaker ones in the background.

The AP reports another potential factor is that all of the restrictions on our personal activities from social distancing to wearing masks, and not being around others as much, are helping keep the flu from getting passed around like in previous years.

Lynette Brammer oversees flu tracking at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. She says, “This is the lowest flu season we’ve had on record.” The CDC has been keeping track of the related numbers for the past 25 years. So that’s saying something. Brammer says hospitalizations nationwide for the flu are barely a fraction of where they would be in a mild flu season. She says only one pediatric flu death is verified in America so far this year. Last year at this time there had been 93.

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