Colorado reports substantial decrease in serious flu cases

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FILE – In this Jan. 14, 2005 file photo, a man sneezes holding a tissue in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Roberto Pfeil, File)

DENVER (AP) — Colorado has reported a substantial decrease in deaths and hospitalizations from the influenza amid public health measures meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The state Department of Public Health and Environment reported a total of 24 hospitalizations from the flu between Sept. 27 and Feb. 20.

At around this time in last year’s flu season, over 2,400 people had been hospitalized. The state reported a total of 3,546 flu hospitalizations across its 2019-20 flu season.

This year’s flu season will last through May 22, according to the state health department.

And while three people have died from the flu so far this season, 143 died during the 2019-2020 season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I’ve never seen flu this low,” said Larissa Pisney, medical director of infection prevention and control for UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. “This is certainly unprecedented.”

Medical experts have attributed the decline in influenza cases to multiple factors, including coronavirus-related health orders and the fact that children have not been to school in-person for much of the pandemic, the Denver Post reported. Schools are one of the most common venues where flu is spread, the newspaper reported.

There has also been a 13.5% increase in flu vaccinations this season over last.

Pisney emphasized that the coronavirus is far more infectious, leads to more hospitalizations and is more deadly than the flu.

Nearly 6,000 people have died, and more than 23,000 people have been hospitalized in Colorado as a result of the coronavirus since the pandemic began, according to the state health department. That’s more than 40 times the number of deaths and more than six times the number of hospitalizations the state said were caused by the flu in the 2019-20 season.

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