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HEALTH CARE NOTEBOOK: Pandemic flu levels very low | Mindfulness focus of UAMS course

by Kat Stromquist | July 25, 2021 at 2:44 a.m.

Report: Pandemic flu levels very low

Flu levels in the U.S. were very low from March 2020 through May of this year, according to a new report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers.

The report, published last week in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, examined levels of several common respiratory viruses since the covid-19 pandemic hit U.S. shores.

It found that the flu was diagnosed at historically low levels through the summer of 2020 and remained low throughout the winter. Several other respiratory viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and common coronaviruses, also didn't circulate as widely as they typically do until this spring.

The decline is because of health measures -- such as limiting travel, social distancing and wearing masks -- that helped stave off covid-19 infections, experts say.

That means "circulation of respiratory viruses could resume at prepandemic levels after COVID-19 mitigation practices become less stringent," researchers wrote in their report.

"Clinicians should be aware of increases in some respiratory virus activity and remain vigilant for off-season increases."

Doctors should urge patients to get flu shots this fall as more mitigation measures relax, and school and in-person work resumes, the scientists wrote.

In line with national trends, Arkansas saw far fewer flu cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the 2020-21 season than is usual, according to the Health Department.

Mindfulness focus of UAMS course

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will offer an online mindfulness course in August, according to a news release.

The Koru mindfulness class provides an introduction to meditation and stress management. Students and faculty members have taken part in similar trainings at UAMS since 2017.

It includes instruction on breath meditation, labeling of thoughts, body scans and other mindfulness techniques.

The class meets for four Tuesdays beginning at 7 p.m. Aug. 3. It's hosted on the Zoom videoconferencing platform. The course fee is $120 and includes a book and a guided meditation app.

Registration is online at:

People interested in obtaining a scholarship to attend the course can email to apply.

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