BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, Louisiana is holding steady in COVID-19 cases trending down but doctors warn that the flu is making a comeback this year.
In 2020, the flu season was nearly nonexistent according to state doctors. This year, with less social distancing and the mask mandate being lifted, hospitals have seen a rise in the flu and colds.
“This year we are seeing the flu show up, especially in the last week,” said Dr. Jacob Wood, a family medicine physician at Baton Rouge General.
At Baton Rouge General, Dr. Wood said the flu patients they have seen recently have had severe cases. The strain most prominent so far has strong respiratory infection symptoms.
“Mostly I’m seeing young people with the flu. I’ve had several high school students, college kids, some late 20’s/early 30’s. But I expect that is going to expand out into the older ages,” Dr. Wood said.
As for the COVID front, the state continues to see low transmission and hospitalizations. Louisiana is one of the states with the lowest numbers in the country, after a tough summer being the leader. Many other states are starting to see their own Delta surge now, weeks after Louisiana.
Last year there was a big concern over gathering for the holidays due to the possibility of causing another surge. With vaccinations more widely available doctors aren’t sure how it will turn out. Dr. Joseph Kanter said with such a high rate of exposure and increase in vaccinations in the state earlier this year, it helped create some immunity to the virus to slow the surge.
“I think after a big surge like this we have a few months where we stay quiet. That is certainly what happened during the prior surges,” Dr. Kanter said. “But after that the protection of people who were exposed wanes a little bit and we return to being vulnerable.”
Louisiana continues to have some of the lowest vaccination rates, which Dr. Kanter said could put the state at risk of future surges from variants.
Doctors at Baton Rouge General said there has been a high interest in people getting their flu shot but not quite as much with younger populations so they encourage people to consider getting their shots this year.