Quick Takes

Flu picking up in Kentucky after mild seasons during COVID-19

By: - December 7, 2022 12:28 pm

More cases of flu are popping up in Kentucky after masking during the pandemic kept the last few seasons relatively mild. 

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department posted on social media Wednesday that “flu is hitting hard in Lexington” with more cases in the first two months of the season than in the last three years. 

The Lexington area, the department reported, has 525 new lab-confirmed cases and five flu-related deaths from Nov. 3 to Dec. 1. The area now has 1,294 cases and six deaths for the season, a significant increase from the 2021-2022 season, when there were two deaths and 381 cases. 

In the 2020-2021 season, there were no deaths and just four cases. The 2019-2020 season saw nine deaths and 749 cases. 

“Please remember that lab-confirmed cases only reflect a small percentage of flu cases actually in Lexington,” the Lexington department stated. “Many providers use rapid testing, which is not required to be reported to your state/local health departments. We are aware of people in our community testing positive for the flu virus in their provider’s offices through rapid testing, and the flu will continue to spread throughout the winter.” 

Dr. Jeff Howard, the interim director of Metro Louisville Department of Health and Wellness, said during the Wednesday Board of Health meeting that the flu season in the city “has picked up over the last 48 to 72 hours, 96 hours, in a way that was relatively unexpected.” 

A spokeswoman for the Louisville Health Department said two people have died so far with the flu in the county. Both had underlying medical conditions and were “of older ages.” The newest weekly report for the county will be published later Wednesday. 

“Our hospitals are starting to get very very full. ERs are full,” Howard said at the Board of Health meeting. “Healthcare resources are extremely limited. Many patients are being held in ERs right now, all across the city, for 10 plus hours because of staffing shortages and bed shortages.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all people 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. You can find flu vaccines near your ZIP code at https://www.vaccines.gov/find-vaccines/

This story may be updated.

 

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Sarah Ladd
Sarah Ladd

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist from West Kentucky who's covered everything from crime to higher education. She spent nearly two years on the metro breaking news desk at The Courier Journal. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since. As the Kentucky Lantern's health reporter, she focuses on mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, children's welfare, COVID-19 and more.

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