During the 2009- 2010 influenza pandemic, we saw how influenza can be unpredictable in terms of who it affects most, when it occurs, and what strains will circulate. This season is no exception. While the circulating strains are exactly what we predicted, the peak of the flu season is hitting earlier than usual (now) and it’s really spreading fast. In fact, this week’s new Influenza Activity Report moved us into the “Widespread” category along with just about all the other states. The CDC Summary Site will probably be updated today with the latest US data. I bet just about every state will be on widespread status.
In AZ, a few of our licensed medical facilities are currently on “Divert or Caution” meaning that they are at or near capacity with sick folks. Our Licensing team will be in contact with several hospitals today. Many are managing patient flow by prioritizing medical procedures and postponing those that are optional in order to save space and staffing for acutely sick folks. We’ve given a couple of facilities permission to make adjustments to their normal procedures to better serve sick patients.
Preparedness is working on bed polls and communication with the county health officers/counties and media. We’ll continue to reach out to facilities to find out about capacity issues and work with them on messaging for alternate care sites and transferring patients within their own facilities.
It’s too late to get the flu shot for the folks that are sick with influenza right now. But if you haven’t gotten sick yet and have been putting it off- you better get on the stick.