Pa. Department of Health reports on 2020-21 flu season with record low numbers

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(WHTM) — Deputy Secretary of Health Preparedness and Community Protection, Ray Barishansky, spoke on Friday, May 28, to provide an update on the 2020-21 flu season, which was one of the mildest flu seasons on record ending May 22.

“As we end the flu season this year with fewer than 4,000 cases, I want to emphasize that this is one of the mildest flu seasons on record for Pennsylvania,” Beam said. “The previous season was higher than usual with more than 139,000 cases of the flu. That is a stark difference from where we ended in 2021.”

Flu activity remained low in the commonwealth and nationally the entire season.

“The low flu activity, in part, is a testament to effective COVID-19 mitigation efforts that also prevent the flu, since the two infectious diseases spread the same way. In addition, a record number of individuals got their flu vaccine this season,” said Beam.

The 2020-2021 season, with co-circulation of COVID-19, was comparable to the 2015-2016 season when the H1N1 flu virus predominated.

As of May 22, there have been a total of 3,664 laboratory-confirmed flu cases and 21 flu-associated deaths state-wide.

According to the press release, the reported drop of flu cases occurred despite a sixfold increase in testing at public health labs, most of which test for influenza.

“While we are highlighting the below-average flu activity, we must remember to take similar proven public health measures like washing hands frequently, keeping physical distance and even wearing a mask to minimize the spread of infectious respiratory diseases,” said Barishansky. “The flu season is over, let’s continue to do our part to stop the spread of flu and COVID-19.”

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