HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Cold and flu season normally runs from November to May. And the state Department of Health reports that so far, there have been only five confirmed cases of influenza-A in Hawaii and no flu-related deaths.
COVID-19 is a factor in more ways than one. First off, when someone has cold or flu symptoms, physicians may not be looking for influenza.
“When we see someone with respiratory symptoms, we’re focusing on COVID and we’re ordering COVID tests,” said Dr. Scott Miscovich, of Premier Medical Group.
Miscovich adds, however, that the flu is out there. But the precautions that have been recommended to slow the spread of the coronavirus is also stopping the flu bug.
“We’re all out there social distancing, so that’s number one,” said Miscovich. “What are we doing? We’re washing our hands. That’s very important with flu season.”
Health experts have been urging people to get their flu shots, in part to reduce the risk that hospitals could be overwhelmed by simultaneous outbreaks of coronavirus and influenza.
Plus, the CDC says it is possible to have the flu and COVID at the same time.
During a five-week period last winter, the DOH reported 26 flu clusters with more than 5,000 confirmed cases. There were also 227 deaths related to complications from pneumonia or the flu.
For Miscovich, this season’s low flu numbers show that COVID is different — and a lot more contagious.
“If it was just another flu and the flu was out there, the numbers should have been parallel,” he said. “The flu numbers should have been spiking because it’s spread through respiratory droplets.”
Miscovich said there’s still a chance to flu cases to rise if more students return to in-classroom learning, because the virus often spreads easily in school settings.
However, he adds, “I still believe that this flu season is going to very mild and very, very insignificant relative to what COVID is doing.”