An estimated 6.2 million to 7.3 million people in the United States have been sick with the flu since October, federal health officials said Friday. At least half of those people have sought medical care for their illness and 69,000 to 84,000 people have been hospitalized during the Oct. 1 to Jan. 5 period, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated.
This is the first time the CDC has provided such flu estimates for the 2018-2019 season. The estimates are extrapolated from data from about 27 million people, or about 8.5 percent of the U.S. population, federal health officials said.
While the numbers are milder than last season, the CDC’s “influenza like illness level” last week was elevated at 4.1 percent, almost twice national baseline. There were widespread flu outbreaks across 31 states, including New York, California and Florida, last week, the CDC said. It was widespread throughout almost every state during the same period last year.
The CDC hasn’t released data on the total number of deaths so far this season, saying 16 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported to the agency this season. Reports of flu-related mortality are starting to come in across the country. The Oklahoma State Department of Health has attributed 13 deaths there to the flu since Sept. 1, two of them since the new year.