How Bad Is the Flu Season in Every State?

February 12, 2020 by Thomas C. Frohlich

Amplifying concerns over the novel coronavirus named COVID-19, the United States is enduring a particularly bad flu season. There are currently 13 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States. As of the middle of February, 1,115 deaths and more than 45,000 cases of the novel disease have been documented, the vast majority in China. 

While the death toll and spread of COVID-19 have caused great concern in light of the lack of a vaccine and full understanding of the virus, these numbers are nowhere near the levels reached during a typical flu season in the United States.

According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 22 million and 31 million people in the United States have been sick with the flu or flu-like illnesses so far this season. And between 12,000 and 30,000 flu deaths were estimated over that period. 

Click graph to enlarge

Though flu incidence is considerably higher than usual this season and it has not yet peaked, this year’s flu season is not as bad as the 2017-2018 season. 

Still, influenza-like illnesses have been rising in recent weeks. Flu-related visits to health care providers rose this week from 6.0% to 6.7% of all patients. 

To identify the incidence of the flu in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the latest weekly influenza surveillance report prepared by the influenza division of the CDC. Influenza-like illness activity levels (minimal, low, moderate, and high) are based on the difference between current and off-season average proportions of outpatient visits to health providers for flu-like illnesses. 

It is important to note that outbreaks occurring in a single city can cause a state to display high activity levels, and data collected may disproportionately represent certain populations within a state and therefore may not accurately capture influenza activity for the whole state. 

The percentage of outpatient visits with flu-like illnesses so far this flu season (Oct. 1, 2019 through Jan. 27, 2020) was calculated by 24/7 Wall St. using data reported weekly to the CDC.

Activity levels for states are measured against regional off-season average patient visits for flu-like illnesses. Across the 10 geographical regions the CDC defines, these off-season baselines range from 1.1% of patients in the Seattle region (Idaho, Oregon, and Washington) to 3.1% in the New York region (New Jersey and New York). States with high activity levels are those where flu cases have exceeded the respective baseline by the most. 

Each state’s 65 and over and 5 and under populations were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey. 

Click here to see how bad the flu is in your state

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1. Alabama
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 4.9% of patients (out of 849,854)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.4% of patients
> 65 and over population: 17.0% (18th highest)
> 5 and under population: 5.9% (23rd lowest)

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2. Alaska
> Flu-like Illness activity level: Low
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 3.7% of patients (out of 86,925)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.5% of patients
> 65 and over population: 11.9% (2nd lowest)
> 5 and under population: 7.1% (2nd highest)

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3. Arizona
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 3.3% of patients (out of 237,973)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.4% of patients
> 65 and over population: 17.6% (11th highest)
> 5 and under population: 6.1% (16th highest)

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4. Arkansas
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 3.8% of patients (out of 77,958)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 3.8% of patients
> 65 and over population: 16.8% (22nd highest)
> 5 and under population: 6.2% (13th highest)

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5. California
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 3.0% of patients (out of 993,122)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.4% of patients
> 65 and over population: 14.3% (6th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.1% (16th highest)

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6. Colorado
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 4.6% of patients (out of 654,868)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.7% of patients
> 65 and over population: 14.2% (5th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 5.9% (23rd lowest)

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7. Connecticut
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 3.6% of patients (out of 756,291)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 17.2% (15th highest)
> 5 and under population: 5.1% (5th lowest)

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8. Delaware
> Flu-like Illness activity level: Low
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 1.0% of patients (out of 22,842)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 18.7% (6th highest)
> 5 and under population: 5.6% (11th lowest)

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9. Florida
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): No detailed data
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.4% of patients
> 65 and over population: 20.5% (2nd highest)
> 5 and under population: 5.3% (8th lowest)

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10. Georgia
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 5.9% of patients (out of 1,457,853)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.4% of patients
> 65 and over population: 13.8% (4th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.1% (16th highest)

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11. Hawaii
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 3.3% of patients (out of 45,424)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.4% of patients
> 65 and over population: 18.4% (7th highest)
> 5 and under population: 6.2% (13th highest)

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12. Idaho
> Flu-like Illness activity level: Minimal
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 1.1% of patients (out of 25,505)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.5% of patients
> 65 and over population: 15.9% (20th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.5% (7th highest)

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13. Illinois
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 3.3% of patients (out of 1,509,561)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 15.6% (12th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.0% (23rd highest)

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14. Indiana
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 2.4% of patients (out of 81,503)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 15.7% (15th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.2% (13th highest)

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15. Iowa
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 1.5% of patients (out of 114,959)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.7% of patients
> 65 and over population: 17.0% (18th highest)
> 5 and under population: 6.3% (11th highest)

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16. Kansas
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 3.5% of patients (out of 246,927)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.7% of patients
> 65 and over population: 15.9% (20th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.4% (10th highest)

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17. Kentucky
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 4.1% of patients (out of 217,473)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.4% of patients
> 65 and over population: 16.4% (25th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.1% (16th highest)

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18. Louisiana
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 7.6% of patients (out of 952,988)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 3.8% of patients
> 65 and over population: 15.5% (11th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.5% (7th highest)

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19. Maine
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 2.1% of patients (out of 270,421)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 20.6% (the highest)
> 5 and under population: 4.7% (3rd lowest)

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20. Maryland
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 3.7% of patients (out of 910,027)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 15.4% (9th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.0% (23rd highest)

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21. Massachusetts
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 2.4% of patients (out of 1,058,469)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 16.5% (25th highest)
> 5 and under population: 5.2% (7th lowest)

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22. Michigan
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 1.6% of patients (out of 426,969)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 17.2% (15th highest)
> 5 and under population: 5.7% (15th lowest)

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23. Minnesota
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 3.3% of patients (out of 113,399)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 15.8% (17th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.3% (11th highest)

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24. Mississippi
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 4.9% of patients (out of 315,586)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.4% of patients
> 65 and over population: 15.9% (20th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.0% (23rd highest)

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25. Missouri
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 2.0% of patients (out of 45,720)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.7% of patients
> 65 and over population: 16.9% (21st highest)
> 5 and under population: 6.0% (23rd highest)

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26. Montana
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 1.6% of patients (out of 181,356)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.7% of patients
> 65 and over population: 18.8% (5th highest)
> 5 and under population: 5.8% (19th lowest)

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27. Nebraska
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 4.6% of patients (out of 220,170)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.7% of patients
> 65 and over population: 15.8% (17th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.8% (5th highest)

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28. Nevada
> Flu-like Illness activity level: Moderate
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 2.2% of patients (out of 199,773)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.4% of patients
> 65 and over population: 15.7% (15th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.1% (16th highest)

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29. New Hampshire
> Flu-like Illness activity level: Moderate
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 1.3% of patients (out of 36,523)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 18.1% (9th highest)
> 5 and under population: 4.6% (2nd lowest)

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30. New Jersey
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 4.6% of patients (out of 587,282)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 3.2% of patients
> 65 and over population: 16.1% (21st lowest)
> 5 and under population: 5.8% (19th lowest)

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31. New Mexico
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 5.2% of patients (out of 439,607)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 3.8% of patients
> 65 and over population: 17.6% (11th highest)
> 5 and under population: 5.7% (15th lowest)

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32. New York
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 2.7% of patients (out of 1,007,592)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 3.2% of patients
> 65 and over population: 16.4% (25th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 5.8% (19th lowest)

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33. North Carolina
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 2.6% of patients (out of 1,888,184)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.4% of patients
> 65 and over population: 16.3% (23rd lowest)
> 5 and under population: 5.8% (19th lowest)

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34. North Dakota
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 3.3% of patients (out of 62,887)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.7% of patients
> 65 and over population: 15.3% (7th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.9% (4th highest)

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35. Ohio
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 1.5% of patients (out of 316,392)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 17.1% (17th highest)
> 5 and under population: 5.9% (23rd lowest)

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36. Oklahoma
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 4.7% of patients (out of 170,689)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 3.8% of patients
> 65 and over population: 15.7% (15th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.5% (7th highest)

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37. Oregon
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 2.7% of patients (out of 765,528)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.5% of patients
> 65 and over population: 17.6% (11th highest)
> 5 and under population: 5.5% (10th lowest)

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38. Pennsylvania
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 2.4% of patients (out of 881,027)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 18.2% (8th highest)
> 5 and under population: 5.5% (10th lowest)

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39. Rhode Island
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 1.9% of patients (out of 100,355)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 17.3% (14th highest)
> 5 and under population: 5.1% (5th lowest)

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40. South Carolina
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 5.7% of patients (out of 199,493)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.4% of patients
> 65 and over population: 17.7% (10th highest)
> 5 and under population: 5.7% (15th lowest)

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41. South Dakota
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 1.6% of patients (out of 228,293)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.7% of patients
> 65 and over population: 16.6% (24th highest)
> 5 and under population: 6.8% (5th highest)

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42. Tennessee
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 6.1% of patients (out of 767,340)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.4% of patients
> 65 and over population: 16.3% (23rd lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.0% (23rd highest)

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43. Texas
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 7.1% of patients (out of 508,774)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 3.8% of patients
> 65 and over population: 12.5% (3rd lowest)
> 5 and under population: 7.0% (3rd highest)

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44. Utah
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 3.9% of patients (out of 343,069)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.7% of patients
> 65 and over population: 11.1% (the lowest)
> 5 and under population: 7.9% (the highest)

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45. Vermont
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 1.7% of patients (out of 87,873)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 19.8% (4th highest)
> 5 and under population: 4.6% (2nd lowest)

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46. Virginia
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 4.3% of patients (out of 1,896,668)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 15.5% (11th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 5.9% (23rd lowest)

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47. Washington
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 3.8% of patients (out of 367,366)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.5% of patients
> 65 and over population: 15.4% (9th lowest)
> 5 and under population: 6.1% (16th highest)

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48. West Virginia
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 2.4% of patients (out of 278,385)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 20.0% (3rd highest)
> 5 and under population: 5.2% (7th lowest)

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49. Wisconsin
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 2.4% of patients (out of 471,934)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 1.9% of patients
> 65 and over population: 17.0% (18th highest)
> 5 and under population: 5.7% (15th lowest)

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50. Wyoming
> Flu-like Illness activity level: High
> Flu-like symptoms so far this flu season (Oct 1- Jan 27): 2.4% of patients (out of 76,896)
> Flu-like symptoms in offseason (regional): 2.7% of patients
> 65 and over population: 16.7% (23rd highest)
> 5 and under population: 6.1% (16th highest)

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