Flu-related deaths in state rise by 2 to 20 for the season

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)

Two more flu-related deaths were reported in Arkansas over the past week, bringing this season's death toll to 20, the state Department of Health reported Friday.

The state remains at a "high" level of flu activity, based on visits to the doctor by people with a fever and cough or sore throat, according to the department's weekly report.

One person who died within the past week was between the ages of 45 and 64, and the other was 65 or older.

Of the others who have died of the flu so far this season, three were age 25-44, four were age 45-64 and 11 were 65 or older.

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

Meanwhile, 23 people were newly hospitalized with covid-19, down from 99 the previous week.

From Oct. 1 through the week ending Jan. 13, Arkansas reported 5,369 confirmed flu cases, up from 4,332 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. Around this time last year, Arkansas had already reported 129 influenza-related deaths, including one child death.

Seven 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 9,400 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 noted eight covid-related deaths reported over the past week, raising the total since Jan. 1, 2023, to 657.

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