Flu season is off to a slow start this year, while deaths attributed to pneumonia are higher than usual throughout the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the CDC’s weekly FluView report, 7.2% of deaths this past week were attributed to pneumonia, influenza, or COVID-19. Only 1.2% of healthcare provider visits were for flu-like illness and the number of respiratory samples testing positive for flu is less than 1%.
A change in healthcare seeking behaviors due to the COVID-19 pandemic could be having an impact on the reporting of flu-like illness, since many patients are accessing healthcare through alternative means, including telehealth. That change in patient behavior could be one reason why traditional healthcare providers are not seeing increased numbers in cases of flu-like illness, the CDC data suggests.
“While traditional healthcare providers are not seeing increased numbers of cases of [flu-like illness] it is important to evaluate other sources of surveillance data to obtain a complete and accurate picture of both COVID-19 and influenza activity,” the CDC reports says.