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Flu-related deaths in First State rise to eight this season

Delaware Public Media

Three more people in Delaware have died from the flu.


These bring the number of flu-related deaths so far this season up to eight, according to the Division of Public Health (DPH).


Those eight individuals ranged in age from 41 to 83. Four were from Sussex County, one was from Kent County and three were from New Castle County. According to DPH, all were infected with Influenza A.


The most recent data, from Jan. 19, shows there have been more than 1,200 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in Delaware this season— although officials note there are likely more untested cases circulating statewide. More than 200 people have been hospitalized for the flu.


At the same point last year, there were 1,289 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza and 297 hospitalizations, according to DPH. Last year was a record-breaking flu season. There were 35 flu-related deaths.


This flu season started weeks earlier than expected.


“It’s very hard to compare, because last season we had a peak in February, and that’s hard to compare the two. And again, every flu season’s different,” said Dr. Richard Hong, medical director for the Division of Public Health. “So all I can say right now is we’re pretty much aligned with what we were seeing last year.”


Hong says the flu is in “widespread” status across the state.


Christiana Care and Bayhealth recently implemented visitation restrictions at their hospitals to protect patients from the flu. Those younger than 16 are discouraged from visiting.


“There are still vaccines available whether it’s in your local pharmacy, grocery stores, so please consider getting your flu vaccine, because it’s still the best way to protect yourself,” said Hong.

Flu shots are also available at State Service Centers and doctors’ offices.


Flu vaccines take up to two weeks to become fully effective, so state officials encourage anyone who hasn’t gotten a flu shot to get one as soon as possible.


Correction: An earlier version of this story mistated the number of people who have died from the flu in Sussex County this season. 

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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