A look back: This season's flu numbers v. 2019-20

The U.S. has reported unusually low flu activity during the 2020-21 season, likely due to COVID-19 pandemic safety measures and reporting issues.

Becker's has compiled data from the CDC for week 15 of the flu seasons in both 2020 and 2021. The data comes from the agency's weekly FluView report, with data as of April 11, 2020, and April 17, 2021.

Regional flu activity levels

2019-20: During week 15, New York City and New Jersey reported very high flu activity levels, while eight states and Washington, D.C., reported high activity levels. Moderate flu activity was reported in six states, while flu activity was low in 11 states and minimal in 24.  

2020-21: During week 15, all 50 states were reporting minimal levels of flu activity. Washington, D.C., was not included due to insufficient data.  

Flu hospitalizations

2019-20: A total of 19,845 lab-confirmed flu-associated hospitalizations were reported by FluSurv-NET sites between Oct. 1, 2019, and April 11, 2020, with a cumulative hospitalization rate of 68.3 per 100,000 population.

2020-21: FluSurv-NET sites in 14 states reported 223 lab-confirmed flu hospitalizations between Oct. 1, 2020, and April 17, 2021, for an overall cumulative hospitalization rate of 0.8 per 100,000 population. 

Pediatric deaths

2019-20: Two pediatric deaths tied to the flu were reported in week 15 for a total of 168 pediatric deaths as of April 11, 2020.

2020-21: No pediatric flu deaths were reported in week 15. In total, one pediatric death has been reported this flu season.  

Flu outpatient visits

2019-20: Nationwide, 2.9 percent of patient visits reported to the CDC during week 15 were due to flu-like illness. This percentage was above the national baseline of 2.4 percent.

2020-21: Nationwide, 1.1 percent of patient visits reported to the CDC during week 15 were due to flu-like illness. This percentage is below the national baseline of 2.6 percent.


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