FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – After a year of mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing, precautions made to limit the spread of COVID-19 nearly wiped out a typical flu season in Indiana.
By late March/early April 2020, Indiana’s Department of Health classified the spread of seasonal flu as “moderate.” The Department of Health reported five school-wide outbreaks and 38 outbreaks in long-term care facilities, along with 112 deaths.
This year, influenza spread was deemed “minimal.”
“We’ve essentially eliminated flu season,” said Parkview Health Chief Quality and Safety Officer Dr. Jeff Boord.
In the most recent weekly influenza report, there were no reported long-term care facility outbreaks due to the seasonal flu. The department also reported only five deaths linked to influenza.
Dr. Boord explains that the seasonal flu, similar to COVID-19, is a respiratory disease that is spread through droplets like coughing or sneezing. However, influenza is not as infectious as COVID-19 since communities have built a resistance to the disease over time.
When Hoosiers took precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19, it also brought the spread of the seasonal flu to historic lows.
“All of the measures we used to slow the spread of COVID-19 – masking, physical distancing, hand hygiene – dramatically reduced the rate of transmission of influenza in the community,” Dr. Boord said.
As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease back, it’s too soon to determine if seasonal flu cases will revert to normal levels by the time flu season starts next October.