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January 9, 2023 — New flu cases in the United States continue to decline as flu-related outpatient visits to doctors’ offices and hospitals fell for the fifth straight week at the end of 2022, according to the latest CDC data.
Despite good news, the number of hospital admissions for influenza and influenza-like illnesses remained stable.
According to data from the CDC’s Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network, during the week of December 25-31, outpatient visits for influenza-like illness accounted for 5.4% of all visits to healthcare providers. That’s down from 6.0% in the previous week and down from a seasonal high of 7.5% in late November, based on the CDC Influenza Division’s latest FluView report.
The CDC surveillance network defines a flu-like illness as a fever plus a cough or sore throat, not laboratory-confirmed flu, so the data includes other respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). But the language in the FluView report makes it clear that the CDC’s focus is on the flu.
State-level data confirms the national decline: only 12 jurisdictions had “very high” flu activity in the week of December 25-31, compared to 24 the week before. (Jurisdictions include the 50 states plus territories, New York City and the District of Columbia.) Another step down shows that the number of metro areas with very high activity has fallen from 59 to 37, the CDC said.
Despite the decline in outpatient visits, hospitalizations remained at around 19,000 for the second straight week after a two-week downturn, based on data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Protect platform.Another measure that showed no improvement was the proportion of deaths from the flu, which was higher from Dec. 25-31 (1.63%) than in the two previous weeks (1.53%), according to National Center data and 1.6%). for health statistics included in the CDC report.
The total number of deaths during the 2022-23 flu season so far is around 14,000, with hospitalizations at 230,000 and illnesses at around 22 million. Among the deaths reported over the past week, 13 were in children, and the total for the season now stands at 74, the CDC said.