Flu case numbers plummet amid coronavirus pandemic

SOUTHWEST MISSOURI — Coronavirus is at the forefront of everyone’s minds — but a different virus has been seeing a drop in cases.

How does the flu compare this year to year’s past? Doctors say the flu numbers have been non-existent this year. Freeman Health System doctors say they have been treating less flu and patients.

Joel Dermott, Administrator Barton County Health Dept., said, “The flu is nonexistent more and less not only in this part of the state and statewide if you look at national trends it’s very much the same.”

The Barton County Health Department says there have been only 1,200 cases of the flu in the state of Missouri from the 2020 to 2021 flu season, which is a dramatic drop.

“Compared to this time last year there was 44,000 so we are seeing dramatic decreases of flu not just in Southwest Missouri, but statewide and if you look at national numbers. If you look at numbers for other states and they are very much the same as what we are experiencing.”

Doctors at Freeman Health System say people changing their behavior is helping lower flu cases.

Rob McNab, Director of Covid Services, said, “The things we can point to are human behaviors. I think the masking, I think the social distancing, and I think the real emphasis on hand hygiene has made the biggest difference. I don’t think the flu patterns the way that it spreads across the world has changed.”

Doctor McNab says he and other physicians have also noticed a drop in other respiratory issues.

“The number of emphysema flare ups and other respiratory issues that typically we deal with in Fall and Winter long have also been extremely light.”

Doctor McNab says he has only admitted one flu patient this season compared to 10 to 20 during a normal flu season. He says to keep flu numbers low in the future — at risk patients with chronic bronchitis or emphysema should wear masks throughout the flu season.

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