Seasonal flu rates are increasing across New York amid a concurrent surge in COVID-19 cases over the last several weeks.
The increase in flu cases announced on Wednesday by the state Department of Health led to officials to urge New Yorkers to take similar precautions as they would with COVID-19: Staying home if experiencing symptoms, consulting a doctor and getting tested.
State health officials reported a 25% increase in positive flu rates in the week ending May 7. It is the 25th consecutive week in which widespread influenza has been reported.
“It is easy to become complacent about the flu when our minds are on the latest COVID-19 wave and with the weather turning warmer,” state Health Commisssioner Mary Bassett said. “But we know that Influenza rates are climbing alongside Covid-19 cases, so we must be vigilant these next few weeks and take precautions to keep healthy. Wear a mask in indoor public spaces if living in high-risk counties or personally at-risk, and stay home if you feel ill.”
New York in recent weeks has seen another rise in COVID-19 cases across most counties, leading to state and federal public health officials to recommend indoor mask wearing in areas that are deemed to be "high risk" as well as for people who are vulnerable to COVID-19.
Mask requirements for most businesses and public gathering spaces have ended, though remain in effect for public transit, jails and homeless shelters.
Gov. Kathy Hochul's office on Wednesday announced 2,705 COVID-positive people are hospitalized. Of those patients, 47.7%, or 1,290 people, were hospitalized because of complications due to the virus.
"As we continue to monitor the numbers, I encourage New Yorkers to keep using the tools that protect against and treat COVID-19," Hochul said. "The best way to prevent serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19 is by getting fully vaccinated and staying up to date on your booster doses. I know first-hand how tests can help stop the spread to our vulnerable loved ones, so let's keep using this critical tool. If you test positive, talk to your doctor about treatments. Let's continue to look out for each as we work to move forward safely through this pandemic."