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PIERCE COUNTY, WA — New data shows that flu activity remains low across Pierce County and Washington state, a rare spot of good news amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the latest data for the week ending Oct. 10, in Pierce County:
Flu activity was low.
Less than 1 percent of emergency room visits or urgent cares were for flu-like infections.
No hospitals reported admitting patients with the flu or flu-like illnesses.
Just 1.0 percent of flu tests came back positive.
There have been no flu outbreaks at long-term care facilities.
So far this year, no Pierce County residents have died from the flu.
Data for the whole state is similarly optimistic: there have been no deadly cases of the flu in Washington yet this season, and flu activity remains low statewide.
Data on infections takes about two weeks for experts to verify, so information past Oct. 10 has not yet been released, but data will be coming regularly as the season progresses. Experts with the Tacoma - Pierce County Health Department have promised weekly updates on the flu situation on their blog, not just because of the danger of the flu, but because of the danger a heavy flu season poses alongside the coronavirus pandemic.
Washington's top health officials say, in the middle of a pandemic, the last thing our medical system needs is an influx of flu patients.
"The potential for a severe influenza season, or even an average influenza season, compounding the COVID outbreak is very, very disturbing and worrisome," said King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin.
To alleviate that fear, health officials continue to tout the importance of the flu vaccine. Guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows the best time to get vaccinated is between September and October, though if the flu season persists past October it's never too late to get the vaccine.
"We’re getting used to wearing masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19—and masks can help reduce the spread of flu, too. But it’s still important to get a flu shot." writes Nigel Turner Division Director for the Tacoma- Pierce County Health Department's Communicable Disease Department. "It’s the best tool we have to protect ourselves and those around us from the flu."