Flu and Covid infections have worsened over the holidays, and more suffering is expected, the CDC says

NEW YORK (AP) — Flu season is getting worse in the United States, but it's too early to tell how much holiday gatherings have contributed to the spike in illnesses.

New government data Released last Friday — the holiday week between Christmas and New Year — it shows 38 states with high or very high rates of respiratory illnesses with flu, cough and other symptoms. This was up from 31 states in the previous week.

This measure includes people with Covid-19, RSV and other winter viruses, not just the flu. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu is increasing dramatically.

“We expect it to be elevated for several more weeks,” said the CDC's Alicia Butt. So far, it has been a mild flu season, he said.

Interpreting flu reports during and after the holidays can be tricky, he noted. Schools are closed. More people travel. Some people decide to go to the doctor and suffer at home. Others are more likely to go.

Flu season usually peaks in December and February; CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen He said he expects it to peak by the end of this month. Officials say this season's flu vaccines are well-suited to the most common strain.

According to CDC estimates, since the beginning of October, there have been at least 10 million illnesses, 110,000 hospitalizations and 6,500 deaths from the flu so far this season. The agency reported that 27 children have died due to the flu.

Covid-19 illnesses are not increasing as quickly as the flu this winter. CDC Information It indicates that hospitalizations due to the coronavirus have not reached the same level as they did at the same point in the past three winters. However, COVID-19 is hospitalizing more people than the flu, CDC says Information shows.

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Lauren Ansel Meyers of the University of Texas said the country is seeing its second spike in COVID-19 after a small peak in September.

“There's a lot of uncertainty about when and how big this current surge will be,” said Meyers, who directs a team that forecasts trends in COVID-19, flu and RSV.

The CDC estimates that a new version of the coronavirus, called JN.1, accounts for nearly two-thirds of all cases in the United States. But health officials say there is no evidence it causes more severe disease than other recent strains.

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The Associated Press receives support from the Health and Science Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Science and Education Media Group. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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