Arkansas reports 4 more flu deaths, 20 covid-related deaths over past week

Vaccines for covid-19 and the flu are seen at the L.A. Care and Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plans' Community Resource Center in Lynwood, Calif., in this Oct. 28, 2022 file photo. (AP/Mark J. Terrill)
Vaccines for covid-19 and the flu are seen at the L.A. Care and Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plans' Community Resource Center in Lynwood, Calif., in this Oct. 28, 2022 file photo. (AP/Mark J. Terrill)

Four more flu-related deaths were reported in Arkansas over the past week, bringing this season's death toll to 18, the state Department of Health reported Wednesday.

The state's flu deaths increased by one, to three, among people ages 25-44. The death toll increased by one, to four, among people ages 45-64, and it rose by two, to 11, among people 65 and older.

In a weekly report, the department also reported that the level of flu activity in the state, based on visits to the doctor by people with a fever and cough or sore throat, was "high" last week, down from "very high" a week earlier.

During the week ending Saturday, 44 people were admitted to hospitals with the flu, down from 57 the previous week, the department reported.

Meanwhile, 99 people were newly hospitalized with covid-19, up from 22 the previous week.

From Oct. 1 through the week ending Jan. 6, Arkansas reported 4,332 confirmed flu cases, up from 3,487 cases as of a week earlier.

Cases usually peak between December and February, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since many people who catch the flu aren't tested, the reported cases make up only a portion of the total cases in the state.

The flu season is generally from October to May. By this time last year, Arkansas had already reported 116 influenza-related deaths, including one child death.

Five influenza outbreaks have been reported from nursing homes or other congregate setting institutions this flu season. Around this time last year, the Health Department reported a total of 20 outbreaks.

Nationally, CDC estimates 6,500 deaths from flu so far this season, according to the Health Department report.

During last year's flu season, more than 22,500 positive influenza tests were reported to the state Health Department by the spring.

The Health Department also reported 20 covid-related deaths over the past week, raising the total since Jan. 1, 2023, to 649.

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