7 die from flu in Washington state, activity ‘very high’

December 2, 2022 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — Flu activity in the state is now considered very high, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

State health officials on Thursday reported over 1,200 new flu cases from Nov. 13-19, which was more than double the case count of previous weeks, KING 5 reported.

Influenza type A has been the most common flu strain found in recent weeks. Officials said 7.5% of physician visits between Nov. 13-19 were for flu-like illnesses, up from a 1.8% baseline.

Seven people in the state have died so far this season from the flu, including one child, according to health officials.

An average of 193 flu deaths were recorded between 2014 and 2020 with a peak of 296 deaths during the 2017-2018 flu season.

No flu deaths were reported in 2020-2021 while 26 were reported in 2021-2022. The major decrease came amid the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing and mask-wearing, officials said.

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Jason Montemayor, medical director for the northwest region at Providence, said increased flu activity was expected coming out of the pandemic.

“These respiratory illnesses are coming back and they have come back full force,” Montemayor said.

Officials are encouraging people to get their flu and COVID-19 vaccines, wear masks in indoor public spaces and stay home when sick.