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DOH: Reported Flu Cases Dropped 95 Percent from 2019-2020 Season

May 28, 2021

The 2020–2021 flu season was one of the mildest on record, with fewer than 4,000 cases reported this year, officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) said today.

During a press briefing, DOH officials said the public health precautions—such as masking, getting the flu shot, and social distancing—played a significant role in the 95 percent decline in flu cases this year compared to 2019–2020 flu season.

As of May 22, there were 3,664 laboratory-confirmed flu cases and 21 flu-associated deaths statewide during the 2020–2021 flu season, said Deputy Secretary of Health Preparedness and Community Protection Ray Barishansky.

“The low flu activity, in part, is a testament to effective COVID-19 mitigation efforts that also prevent the flu, since the two infectious diseases spread the same way,” Barishansky said. “An additional highlight of this season was a record number of individuals got their flu vaccine this season.”

Pennsylvania’s drop in flu cases mirrors reporting from across the nation and occurred despite a six-fold increase in testing at public health labs, Barishansky said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended health care providers test patients who had COVID-19-like symptoms for both flu and COVID-19, since the viruses have similar symptoms, Barishansky said.

Barishansky stressed that frequent hand-washing, staying home when feeling sick, and the other public health precautions can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the flu.

“Though the flu season is over, let’s continue to do our part to stop the spread of flu, as well as the spread of COVID-19,” Barishansky said.

HAP continues to monitor the public reporting of COVID-19 and the flu across the commonwealth and encourages Pennsylvanians to continue to practice the healthy habits that have helped limit the spread of both infectious respiratory diseases this year.

For more information, contact Mary Catanzaro, or Clare Edelmayer, HAP’s project managers, infection prevention.




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