ND influenza surveillance coordinator tracks slower than normal flu season

Levi Schlosser said mask-wearing and other precautions taken for COVID-19 are likely having an impact on influenza numbers.

A nurse gives a flu vaccination shot to a man at a free clinic held at a local library on Oct. 14, 2020, in Lakewood, Calif. Medical experts are hoping the flu shot this year will help prevent a twindemic an epidemic of influenza paired with a second wave of COVID-19 which could lead to overwhelmed hospitals amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Mario Tama / Getty Images / TNS)

BISMARCK — This influenza season has been a "slower than normal" one, likely due to precautions taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including mask-wearing and physical distancing.

The Minnesota Department of Health reports 27 hospitalizations due to influenza so far this flu season.

During the 2019-2020 flu season, there were 4,022 people hospitalized for influenza.


There have been three deaths attributed to influenza in Minnesota this flu season. In the previous season, 153 people died from influenza in the state.
The situation is much the same in North Dakota.


Levi Schlosser, influenza surveillance coordinator for the North Dakota Department of Health, said the state has had 148 laboratory confirmed influenza cases and 13 hospitalizations since the start of the season early last fall.

Five people have died from influenza in the state thus far, he said, with several months to go in the season.

In contrast, the state has reported 998 pneumonia deaths; many of which were attributed to COVID-19 infections.

For comparison, there were four influenza deaths at this point in the previous flu season and 206 pneumonia deaths, Schlosser said.

Here, Schlosser talks with Forum reporter Robin Huebner about influenza tracking and says it's not too late to get a flu shot:

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