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Flu death toll climbs to 24 in Washington

January 7, 2017 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — Health officials say two dozen people in Washington state have died from the flu so far this season, and the number is likely to climb.

The Washington Department of Health says the victims have been older people — two were over 50, and the rest were over 65, with several victims in their 80s or 90s. Department spokesman Dave Johnson declined to provide a breakdown of the deaths by county, first saying that to do so would violate patient privacy and then saying he wasn’t sure if the department collected the information.

Hospitals around the state have been struggling to find beds for the sick. The News Tribune of Tacoma reports (https://goo.gl/ixOvNS ) that some have been canceling elective surgeries and sending patients to other facilities. The state, meanwhile, is urging only the sickest or at-risk flu patients to use emergency rooms.

Officials say the epidemic likely hasn’t peaked yet.