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Pandemic likely responsible for "minimal" flu season, says Kern Public Health

Kern is having a 'minimal' flu season
Flu Season
Posted at 5:28 PM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 10:36:33-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — It’s something that health officials are usually prioritizing around this time of year; the flu. But officials say this flu season has been unlike any they’ve seen before, in a good way.

Early on, many health officials were concerned about the possibility of a so-called “twindemic” because of Covid-19 and the flu. But now it’s clear, hearing from leaders at local hospitals, that this flu season has hardly been a problem at all.

“We still haven’t really had anybody. Very, very, very few admissions for flu," said Ken Keller, the President of Dignity Health Memorial Hospital.
“I think it’s the lowest we’ve ever seen in Kern County and nationwide," said Dr. Hemmal Kothary of Dignity Health Medical Group.

You might be tired of hearing the word ‘unprecedented’ amid the pandemic, but this time, it’s for a positive reason. Kern County appears to be having an unprecedented quiet flu season.

“Our flu season has been minimal compared to other years," said Michelle Corson, spokesperson for Kern Public Health.

California Department of Public Health data shows by this time last year, 516 Californians had died from the flu. This year that number is only 34. So, what’s the cause? Health experts say changes made due to the pandemic deserve some credit.

“I think the big effort behind that is the mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand-washing," Dr. Kothary said.

“All of the safety protocols we have asked you to implement for Covid-19 are the very same things that are going to protect you from spreading the flu," Corson said.

For years, Public Health has stressed many of the protective measures we’ve now become used to. Washing hands, coughing into your sleeve, and staying home if you’re sick were common messages. Now, it appears those measures, plus mask-wearing, have made a huge difference. Public Health hoping this lesson is carried on in the future.

“This is a game-changer. We’ve become much more aware, and we should always be looking to implement a majority of these protocols, at least, moving forward," Corson said.