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Local health facilities reporting fewer serious flu cases

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 11:00 PM EST
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Local medical facilities are reporting significantly fewer flu cases this flu season, mirroring positive national trends.

WTAP spoke with medical professionals from an urgent care and a local hospital to see how flu season has looked for them.

Doctor Jeff Patey, an emergency medicine physician and owner of Marietta’s Quality Care Associates Urgent Care, said, “This year we’ve barely experienced any influenza patients. We’ve probably seen five or 10 the whole winter.”

To put that in perspective, that is the same urgent care that was diagnosing five to 10 flu cases a day during the peak of last flu season.

The Memorial Health System is also experiencing notably less flu patients.

Nurse Sarah Baillargeon said that isn’t a coincidence.

“We’re seeing a lot more people going out and getting their flu shots, everyone is masking up, people are trying to stay away from each other, people are more conscious about hand hygiene, so it makes since that that was able to stop the spread of the flu.”

Covid precautions have an even greater impact on the spread of the flu.

Dr. Patey explained, “The flu is much less contagious compared to Covid so, when you do those other measures, it has a more dramatic effect on...a virus that’s less contagious.”

Adding on to that, Dr. Patey reported his urgent care administering about 20% more flu shots this flu season.

All this is a pleasant surprise for the health system. Baillargeon said Memorial Health is typically pushed to the limit during flu season, even without Covid.

“..., we were really unsure if we were going to be able to handle that that you know basically onslaught of patients.”

Baillargeon reported urgent care and emergency department staff having to go to other parts of the hospital just to get in their hours.

Dr. Patey reported that, although his urgent care is seeing less flu patients, they have more patients overall, due to Covid.

If you want to take a look at how drastically different this flu season is from a state-wide perspective...

Look here for Ohio: https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/know-our-programs/seasonal-influenza/ohio-flu-activity/ohio-flu-activity

Look here for West Virginia: https://oeps.wv.gov/flu/pages/flu_data.aspx

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