The number of COVID-related pneumonia deaths continue to surge as influenza activity stays barely detectable throughout the United States.
Approximately 28% of the deaths during the last week of January were due to pneumonia, influenza, and COVID-19. The majority of these cases list COVID-19 as an underlying or contributing cause of death, according the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) weekly FluView report.
Of the cases mentioned by the CDC, more than 5,500 had COVID-19 listed as an underlying or contributing cause of death on the death certificate and four listed influenza, indicating that a current increase in pneumonia-related mortality is due to the novel coronavirus and not influenza.
The CDC warns that there may be a lag in the available reported mortality data due to the time required to process paperwork. “The data presented are preliminary and expected to change as more data are received and processed, but the amount of change in the percentage of deaths due to [pneumonia, influenza, and COVID-19] should be lower going forward,” says the FluView report.
During this flu season, there have only been 155 lab-confirmed influenza-related hospitalizations. And flu activity during the last week of January was still minimal to low in all states. Overall, the cumulative percentage of positive flu cases this season is only .2% out of 554,588 specimens tested.
“Flu activity is unusually low at this time but may increase in the coming months,” the report concludes.