Hospitals are more crowded than in the 2014-2015 flu season, which marked the previous record when 710,000 Americans needed medical care to beat the illness, said Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s acting director. The agency also reported the deaths of an additional 16 children over the past week, bringing the total number of pediatric deaths attributed to the flu to 53 so far this season. Half of them had no additional health complications that would have placed them at elevated risk, Schuchat said.
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“This season is a somber reminder of why flu is one of the world’s biggest health challenges,” she said in a conference call. “Our latest data indicate flu is still high and widespread across most of the nation—and increasing overall.”
“We do not know if we have hit the peak yet,” Schuchat said. “And many measurements are still going up.”
The relentless outbreak has led politicians in several states to reach out directly to constituents and urge them to take action to stall the spread, reaffirming the message from medical experts that everyone should get a flu shot. There was a 50% rise in people affected last week in New York, where new cases hit a record of 11,683 and 2,221 people were admitted to hospitals. Governor Andrew Cuomo called on New Yorkers to get the flu shot Thursday, more than two months after the influenza season began in earnest.
“Flu season is in full swing and, as the number of influenza cases and hospitalizations continue [sic] to rise at alarming levels, we must take every action to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” Cuomo said.