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As COVID-19 cases rise, local flu cases drop



AUGUSTA, Ga. – As we continue into flu season, the number of flu cases this year has steadily decreased, compared to previous years. Some believe this is due to safety measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

FOX 54 spoke to Dr. Rodger MacArthur with Augusta University who specializes in infectious diseases to learn more. He said, “This time last year over 15 percent of all the tests that we did to detect influenza were positive and we, just as of a few days ago, were at 0.0%. Anyone we’ve tested who might have had the flu didn’t have the flu.”

According to Dr. MacArthur, that’s due to masking up during the pandemic and adhering to social distancing guidelines. But if we’re adhering to these Cornavirus safety guidelines well enough to fight the flu, why are COVID-19 cases still on the rise?

“The spread of SARS-COV-2 is different than the spread of influenza. On average anyone who has influenza is going to spread it to one other person. It’s not that simple or straight forward with SARS-COV-2. It Clusters,” MacArthur said.

He continued to explain this means one person may expose eight people but only one person may get it. Then that one person could turn and spread it to 20 or 30 people per se. It clusters, unlike the flu. It’s also because more adults have been vaccinated this flu season than last. According to the CDC, 188 million doses of the flu vaccine were shipped out across the country in November and more adults have been vaccinated in pharmacies compared to last year’s flu season.

However, Dr. MacArthur warns flu season isn’t over. “We don’t know if for instance getting COVID-19 after getting flu will lead to a rougher course of COVID-19… We don’t know if getting flu after COVID-19 is going to lead to a greater likelihood of developing pneumonia or a more severe case so we certainly recommend if you haven’t gotten the flu vaccine to go ahead and get it.”