Oklahoma experiencing high level of flu cases

OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – Influenza in Oklahoma is rearing its ugly head, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists Oklahoma as the top state for flu activity.

“It’s not surprising we haver seen an uptick this season,” said Dr. Mary Clarke, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.

According to the State Health Department, since the flu season began in September, 823 people have been hospitalized from the flu; 73 of those hospitalizations happened last week, between March 13-19. Meanwhile, there have been 14 flu-related deaths.

Nationwide, the CDC has ranked Oklahoma at the top in the nation for flu activity.

“I don’t know if I find it surprising based on the relatively low numbers of people wearing masks and kind of doing some other mitigation strategies that we’ve seen even through the COVID time,” said Clarke.

Photo goes with story
U.S. influenza map. Source: CDC.

The OSMA President said that’s because COVID-19 cases are down in the state, which means people are relaxing their hand washing and mask wearing practices.

“That has opened the door to influenza, much less COVID,” said the doctor.

Not to mention the timing of the increase, after Spring Break.

“People go away to hang out with their family and friends that bring flu back and we see that uptick,” she said.

However, it’s not just the flu. Clarke said patients are coming in with stomach bugs, bronchitis and other infections. The doctor said that’s why she’s been taking extra careful steps.

“We are still wearing our masks when we’re in the store or public spaces, not necessarily because of COVID at this point, because of influenza. I don’t have time right now to be out for 10 days because of the flu,” Clarke said.

According to the CDC, this season’s flu vaccine was a poor match for the virus going around. NBC reported the shot was “essentially ineffective.”

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