MDH’s reported flu numbers are much lower than last season’s

The report states that “seasonal influenza activity in the United States remains lower than usual for this time of year,” but the numbers may increase in the upcoming months.

Photo from Unsplash

Flu cases are unusually low for the 2020-2021 season compared to previous years, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Alpha News reached out to the MDH for exact 2019-2020 numbers and was pointed to this page, which details current flu numbers in a Weekly Influenza and Respiratory Illness Activity Report and also gives approximate (but not exact) numbers for previous years.

The influenza season, according to the MDH, starts in week 40 (October) and ends in week 20 (May) of the next year. The current report includes numbers from week 40 to week 53, ending Jan. 2, 2021.

Influenza hospitalizations this flu season total 21 cases. Hospitalizations during the same weeks in the 2019 season totaled around 250, determined by the graph provided in 2019’s Week 53 Report.

Graph from the MDH: Weekly Influenza & Respiratory Illness Activity Report, Week 53

Regarding outbreaks of the flu in schools, a graph from the MDH reveals that between 150 and 200 cases were reported in week 51 of 2019, the highest number for schools in the 2019-2020 season. The total number in schools for the 2020-2021 flu season to date is three.

Graph from the MDH: Weekly Influenza & Respiratory Illness Activity Report, Week 53

Deaths associated with influenza in the past two years have totaled between five and 35 for the same time frame, while there has been one flu-associated death so far this season.

Graph from the MDH: Weekly Influenza & Respiratory Illness Activity Report, Week 53

The report states that “seasonal influenza activity in the United States remains lower than usual for this time of year,” but the numbers could increase during the rest of the flu season.

The weekly report also provides laboratory surveillance, outbreaks in long-term care facilities, and a U.S. influenza surveillance report, among other data.

The report ends by stating, “ILI (influenza-like illness) activity levels may be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and should be interpreted with caution.”