Analysis: Flu season not slowing down, despite COVID-19

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Odd anomaly in the public health numbers: involving how there have now been more flu and pneumonia deaths than COVID-19 deaths in Virginia since mid-March.

It was close the last time we took a dive into the numbers, from the Virginia Department of Health website, back in mid-July.

As of our July 15 report, there had been 1,992 COVID-19 deaths reported in the Commonwealth since March 14, and 1,940 flu and pneumonia deaths.

Updating the numbers from today’s reports from VDH, and the tally is at 2,353 flu and pneumonia deaths since March 14, and 2,327 COVID-19 deaths.

Doing the math on this, you see that since July 15, the number of flu and pneumonia deaths stands at 413, with the number of COVID-19 deaths since July 15 at 335.

This is a reflection that we’re continuing to have our normal busy flu season, as if COVID-19 wasn’t around to distract our attention.

According to VDH, the death toll in the 2019-2020 flu season now stands at 4,419, with eight weeks to go.

We may very well see the 2019-2020 season surpass the average number of deaths from the 2014-2019 flu seasons, at 4,914.

What’s interesting here is, you’d think that all the social distancing that we did back from mid-March to mid-May, before Northam started relaxing the stay-at-home restrictions, would have had an impact on the flu season.

Might this portend a more manageable than currently projected 2020-2021 flu season here?

The fear has been that the coming flu season could be devastating if we get another COVID-19 spike corresponding with the height of the normal seasonal flu.

It bears repeating that our review of the data suggests that it might not be as bad this fall and winter as the experts are saying, or to put it another way, whatever the coming fall and winter have to bring, we already have experience dealing with, and everything that we have to bring to bear from a public health perspective to combat competing viruses – in terms of ER, in-patient bed and ICU capacity – has already passed the test.

Story by Chris Graham


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