Science and Tech


CDC: COVID and flu cases remain high even past peak season

Activity has increased in the Midwest and Central regions of the country, as well as in the Northeast.
Posted at 6:03 PM, Feb 16, 2024

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest data shows COVID and flu levels remain very high, even though we are likely past the worst of the season. 

More people are going to the doctor for other respiratory illnesses — colds, fevers, coughs, sore throats, headaches, fatigue and feeling crummy.

The CDC says that as it watches COVID and flu activity — another trend has emerged.

"There's a whole range of other viruses that cause these respiratory infections. And one of the ways we look at that is through looking at people who visit the doctor for fever plus cough or sore throat. And that number is actually still very high for over half of the country right now. That's even ticked up a little bit over the last week or so," said Dr. Brendan Jackson, lead of CDC Respiratory Virus Response, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

In the past week the CDC says flu numbers have remained high, and activity has increased in the Midwest and Central regions of the country, as well as in the Northeast.

Flu still surging across parts of the US
A woman lies on a couch and blows her nose.

Flu still surging across parts of the US

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates at least 22 million Americans got the flu between Oct. 1 and Feb. 3.


So far this flu season, it's estimated there have been 24 million cases, 260,000 hospitalizations and 16,000 deaths from the flu, with 82 of those deaths having been children — eight of whom died this week.

CDC wastewater data shows high viral activity level overall, with the highest being in the South. Deaths are down 6%, though more than 2,000 people are still dying per week. Some good news is that hospitalizations are down 10% from last week. 

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong tells Scripps News many of his cases are staying in the hospital for a shorter amount of time.

"The majority, if not all of the cases that I'm seeing are people who are older, generally older than 75, and they haven't gotten a vaccine in more than a year," said Chin-Hong.

COVID vaccination rates remain low, with 12% of children and 22% of adults having received the latest vaccine. 

Flu vaccination rates are low too. Millions of people have not gotten one compared to last season.

"What concerns me most of where we are in the season is that the vaccine rates are — especially for people at highest risk — are not where we would want them to be. And that means that there's people getting very sick and even dying unnecessarily because they haven't been able to get that protection that can help them," said Chin-Hong. 

Health officials and experts urge good ventilation like air filters and outside air can help in your home, and well as frequent hand-washing. Masking is a great precaution too. 

Above all, if you feel sick — stay home and call your doctor.