Health department reports surge in flu admissions at hospitals in the east

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, high volumes of people are being seen in hospital emergency rooms with respiratory illness symptoms across the state.

ECU Health Associate Medical Director of Infection Prevention Dr. Ryan Gallaher says among those patients, record numbers are being diagnosed with the flu.

“With the addition that there are still other respiratory viruses, flu is the leading bad guy right now but there are other viruses like COVID and RSV that are still getting people sick to have to have to go to the ER and admitted too, but right now flu is taking the cake,” says Gallaher.

The data shows emergency room visits with respiratory virus symptoms increased from 21.8% the week before to 22.4% last week.

Hospital admissions jumped from 710 for COVID-19 and 722 for the flu the week before to 923 for COVID-19 and 1,055 for the flu last week.

David Bullock says he’s not surprised by the increase and blames the problem on a lack of concern.

“When people get the flu a lot of times they’re still attending work and public environments and not masking up. So, they’re not taking the proper precautions to prevent the spread of the flu,” says Bullock.

Gallaher says in addition to practicing good hygiene and social distancing, people should also get up to date on their shots.

“Now, some people might say well gosh I heard somebody say that they got the vaccine and they still got COVID or flu and that’s true it’s still possible to get the virus when you get the vaccines but here’s the good news, the vaccines always help you in terms of blunting the severity of the infections,” says Gallaher.

Health officials say people with mild flu symptoms should seek treatment from their regular healthcare provider instead of going to the emergency room.

Dr. Gallaher says to prevent respiratory illnesses, everyone should practice the three “W’s”…Wash your hands, Wear a mask and Watch your distance.