Flu and COVID-19 hospitalizations in East Alabama

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 10:27 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Flu season is here and Covid-19 infections are steadily increasing. The risk of getting sick is rising according to health officials.

Hospitals in East Alabama are already seeing patients for the flu virus. They’d like to avoid what some are calling a ‘twindemic’ with both Covid and the flu.

Dr. George Crawford with the Regional Medical Center in Anniston says with the Delta variant and no mask mandate, flu season could look a lot different from last year.

According to Dr. Crawford, flu season was a lot milder because of mask mandates and social distancing. Now the hospitals are preparing for a potential influx of patients dealing with both viruses.

“Wearing mask decreases the transmission rate of the regular flu,” says Dr. Crawford. “That’s how we came about wearing mask for covid. In this situation now we don’t have that mask mandate so we have the delta variant and no mandate. So we’re also going to have those flu patients. Our biggest issue is the number of patients we will take care of.”

On average, about 200,000 people are hospitalized with the flu each year, according to the CDC. With the threat of both viruses causing an influx of patients, which could put a strain on hospital staff and the supplies that are available.

“We have to fortify our staff schedules. We have to make sure that we have enough ventilators,” says Dr. Crawford. “We have to make sure that we have enough supplies overall for patients that are intubated as well as patients who require Bipap, c-Pap or any type of respiratory therapy during this time. That’s what we’re focusing on.”

Symptoms in both viruses are similar, which is why Dr. Crawford feels the hospital staff is prepared handle more patients. But he is concerned about who might become infected with both viruses at the same time.

“That’s our biggest fear really is we have never really seen a patient with covid and a patient with the flu at the same time. That’s something that you would see every once in a while. Without a mask mandate and people not seeing the importance of the flu vaccine, seeing both may create a situation where people are way sicker than with just one.”

Dr. Crawford believes the best way we’re going to get through flu season is by getting both Covid-19 and flu vaccines.

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