Respiratory illnesses that brought people to their health care providers rose to a near-record at the end of November last year – higher than most recent flu seasons, and especially high for that time of the year. Since then, flu and flu-like illnesses have remained high but continue to decline in most areas, according to weekly data published by the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.
Respiratory symptoms including fever, cough, and sore throat were reported in 5.4% of visits to health care providers during the week ending Dec. 31, 2022, down from the 7.5% peak in November, but still higher than the worst weeks of the 2021-22 and 2018-2019 flu seasons.
Multiple respiratory viruses, including influenza, but also SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), are co-circulating. (See how COVID fatality rates compare with other diseases.)
According to estimates from the CDC, there have been as many as 22 million illnesses, 230,000 hospitalizations, and 14,000 deaths from flu so far this season. (These are the worst epidemics and pandemics in history.)
The five states with the highest incidence of flu-like illness last week all reported rates of 6% or greater: New Mexico (12.5%), Maine (7.5%), and Massachusetts, Nebraska, and Colorado (7.1% each). New York City, which is among the non-state jurisdictions tracked by the CDC, had an incidence of flu-like illness of 9%.
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