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Flu season barely got its start this year amid COVID-19 pandemic

(KY3)
Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 4:12 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A new study released Thursday shows the flu season barely got its start this year. Research from Epic Health Research Network shows a 96.3% decrease in flu cases in the 2020-21 season compared to the average over the last four seasons.

There were 101,000 cases of influenza reported during the 2019-2020 season. During the 2020-21 season, only 2,243 were reported.

The 2019-2020 season actually had the highest number of flu cases over the past four years, meaning flu cases declined by nearly 98% from that season.

The research network notes that while there were also fewer patients tested during the pandemic for the flu, the test positivity rate also decreased compared to previous years. Around 550,133 patients were tested in the 2020-21 season, compared to an average 1.6 million over the past four years. The test positivity rate decreased by an average of just over 8% to less than .5%.

Researchers believe this significant decrease is because of people taking COVID-19 precautions, such as using face masks and social distancing.

Epic also found a decrease in flu-related hospitalizations over the past influenza season, showing a drop of 93.7% from the previous season. There were only 850 people admitted nationwide due to the flu from Oct. 2020 to this January.

The results of the study are also aligned with the CDC-reported reductions in influenza cases.

Epic’s research is based on millions of medical records from people across the country, which are not identified.

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