Louisville's COVID-19 cases are once again showing a "steep incline," and with flu cases up from last year, it looks like it will be "a very hard winter ahead," Louisville Chief Health Strategist Dr. Sarah Moyer said Tuesday.
In the 2020-21 flu season, there were 19 flu cases in Jefferson County for the entire flu season, out of 184 in the state, the health department's associate medical director, Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage, said during a morning virtual press conference.
So far this season, Jefferson County has had 58 cases.
The last flu season was almost nonexistent as COVID-19 surged and pandemic-related precautions held it back. Moyer previously warned that this season might not be that low.
"So, last year, we were all wearing masks or staying home; schools weren't open. So, in a much different situation, we had one of the best flu years I think ever on record," she said in September. "We are expecting this year to be much worse because we are back together again."
In the 2019-20 year, Hartlage said, Jefferson County had more than 8,000 flu cases.
"This year, we're still very low compared to 8,000, but they are trending upward," Hartlage said. "And you certainly don't want to get infected with both (flu and COVID-19) at the same time. I'm sure that that would be miserable."
Meanwhile, Louisville's COVID-19 cases doubled from a week ago. The city this week is reporting 2,211 active cases. The city's incidence rate (cases per 100,000 people) went from 24 to 41 and the positivity rate is 9%.
The spike is caused by several factors, Moyer said.
"People are moving more. If we look at our mobility data, we are back up to almost pre-pandemic moving, traveling, going out to the stores, going into work. That has really increased in this last month," she said. "And the more people interact, the more COVID spreads."
Other factors are new variants and waning immunity.
Those who can should get their booster vaccine dose, Hartlage said. "For the majority of the population, the vaccine is going to be very effective at keeping you out of the hospital and keeping you alive."
There are many places around the city that offer flu vaccines, such as pharmacies and primary care providers. In addition, people can find the nearest COVID-19 vaccination site near them at https://www.vaccines.gov/ or by texting their ZIP code to 438829.
Hartlage said there have been more than 1.5 million doses of vaccine distributed in the county, meaning 70% of people have had at least their first dose and 61% have completed the series.
Reach health reporter Sarah Ladd at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @ladd_sarah.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville in for 'a very hard winter' as flu, COVID-19 on the rise