Flu hospitalizations drop dramatically; COVID-19 protocol reducing spread

Health officials said the protocols in place due to COVID-19 have led to the dramatically lower amount of severe flu cases in the state this season.

This flu season the state has reported only five flu-related hospitalizations in the west central region of the state, which includes the majority of the Miami Valley.

In Ohio, the Ohio Department of Health has reported a total of 47 influenza-related hospitalizations so far this season, which is less than a half-percent of the total hospitalizations seen all of last season.

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The flu season runs from October to May every year. In the 2019-2020 season Ohio saw a total of 11,099 flu-related hospitalizations and the year before there were 9,850 flu-related hospitalizations.

The lower rate of spread of the seasonal flu is mimicking what the southern hemisphere experienced, which health officials said often predicts how the season will go here in the Miami Valley.

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“Many of the things that help prevent COVID transmission are also effective for preventing the flu. Things like handwashing, making sure we have a mask, and that social distancing that if we did them every year this is what our flu season would look like,” said Dr. Roberto Colon, associate chief medical officer at Miami Valley Hospital.

Colon said its important to keep up on healthy practices and says staying vigilant with symptoms is key.

“You really can not tell influenza and COVID apart easily there’s very few areas where they differ. By and large the symptoms are identical.”

One of the key differences between the flu and COVID-19 is COVID-19 can have shortness of breath associated with it, while the flu doesn’t, according to the CDC.

Despite many schools moving to remote learning this fall and winter, Colon said he doesn’t believe it has a big impact on the spread of flu, because there is so little flu circulating to begin with.

In Ohio, the Ohio Department of Health has reported a total of 47 influenza-related hospitalizations this season.

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