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A total of 5,031 positive influenza tests have been reported since Oct. 2 per Arkansas Department of Health, risk remains ‘very high’



As we approach the winter, the number of new Covid-19 cases will likely increase, something that we also saw the last two years. Holiday gatherings with friends and family, as well as spending more time indoors, are two key factors that will lead to a growing number of Covid-19 cases in the upcoming months.

Health experts are confident that there will be fewer severe cases and deaths this winter, mostly due to the high vaccination rate and people who have developed natural immunity. When it comes to Covid-19, Arkansans should be safe.

The pandemic, however, caused another problem. The number of flu cases is expected to be much higher this winter compared to previous flu seasons. Some states, including the state of Arkansas, are already seeing an uptick in flu cases despite health leaders’ calls for flu vaccination. And it is happening earlier this year than usual.

During flu season, the ADH produces a weekly report of flu activity in the state. Per the Arkansas Department of Health, there have been a total of 5,031 influenza cases statewide since October 2, but this number is only a portion of the actual number of cases. For week 44, Arkansas reported 11 out of 13 for Influenza-like illness activity level indicators determined by data reported to ILINet.

So far this season, there have been a total of nine influenza-related deaths across the state, while at least three nursing homes have reported outbreaks. The data seems to be concerning, especially taking into consideration the fact that we are only in the second week of November and the worst period is yet to come.

The flu antigen tests in Arkansas have the ability to detect influenza A and B virus types. So far this season, most of the cases—89 percent of the tests—were type A, while the rest were type B. According to ADH, over five percent of patients visiting emergency rooms this week were there for ILI, and over five percent of outpatient visits were for ILI. The average school absenteeism rate last week was 8.6 percent among public schools.

Arkansas is not the only state with a relatively high number of influenza and pneumonia cases.

According to a recent BBC report citing official numbers, US influenza hospital admissions have hit the highest rate in a decade while the number of people vaccinated against flu is much lower compared to this time last year. According to the outlet, at least five million fewer doses were administered this year compared to November 2021.

Health experts are worried a so-called tripledemic of flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and coronavirus could swamp hospitals this winter.

So far, more than 730 flu-related deaths have been reported nationwide, the CDC said.