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Flu cases in Onondaga County highest in the state

photo courtesy of Onondaga County
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon receiving his flu shot in 2020.

As the country progresses deeper into the flu season, the Center for Disease Control has noticed an influx of cases in several states and New York is no exception.

As of Thursday, Onondaga County alone has had the most recorded flu cases in the state with 384 so far this season.

For the week of November 20–the most recently recorded week–there were 202 cases. For context, last year Onondaga County peaked at seven recorded cases in a week, and the year prior the county didn’t reach 202 cases until mid-January.

Dr. Indu Gupta, Onondaga County’s Health Commissioner, said there’s a number of reasons for this spike.

The first being more people are getting tested for the flu now, especially because there’s a combination flu and COVID-19 test now available.

“[Before] somebody has the flu, you stay home, and then you get better or the doctor will call in a prescription,” said Gupta. “It's a little bit different now because the concern for the [COVID-19] is pretty high on the list because they both present similar symptoms.”

There’s also been a spike in flu cases at Syracuse University, but Gupta said that’s not really unusual this time of year.

“When you have a congregate setting like either assisted living or nursing homes or colleges or even big gathering somewhere, then you will see [a] sudden spike–it's like a cluster,” she said.

Now that the semester is winding down, Gupta is hoping to see cases go down a bit.

“So then you have that cluster kind of move away when kids went home, and hopefully we'll see what happens now,” she said.

Gupta said that there are a few things people can do to protect themselves from the flu. The first is getting the flu vaccine, which can be administered in conjunction with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Additionally, she recommends that people go back to masking up, washing their hands frequently, and social distancing.

“All these things will keep the flu and any other viruses and COVID out of your life,” she said. “I think that's what we should try to achieve.”

Madison Ruffo received a Master’s Degree from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, where she specialized in audio and health/science reporting. Madison has extensively covered the environment, local politics, public health, and business. When she’s not reporting, you can find Madison reading, hiking, and spending time with her family and friends.