As temperatures continue to drop, health experts are expecting COVID-19 and influenza cases to increase in the colder months as more activity moves indoors.
While the flu season has not “started in any kind of serious way” yet, according to Chicago’s top doctor Allison Arwady, health experts are encouraging residents to get boosted against COVID-19 and vaccinated against the flu to help prevent outbreaks of both diseases.
During a Facebook Live session, Arwady explained she’s especially concerned about the flu this year, because the Southern Hemisphere has had “quite a bad flu season.” And what the Southern Hemisphere experiences, the doctor said, often predicts what the situation will be in the Northern Hemisphere in the fall and winter.
While Chicago health officials currently don’t see a noticeable rise in flu cases, information on the spread of the flu is being collected as part of surveillance reports.
Arwady has also encouraged accessing the current information and resources the city has collected on the flu at their database.
When it comes to COVID-19, Chicago is currently in a “low” transmission level. However, transmission in health care settings remains high, which has led some health officials to voice concern about the expected higher utilization of health care services during the colder months from both COVID-19 and the flu.
“We continue to be in sort of a high transmission level of concern for healthcare and so you will continue to see healthcare settings generally in Chicago be requiring masking. But I think our health care settings are concerned appropriately as we head into this season,” Arwady said.
With COVID symptoms and flu symptoms often being extremely similar, Arwady said there’s only one way to know for sure what virus you may have contracted.
“Typically people who get influenza tend to have fevers, tend to have body aches, tend to feel like they have been hit by a truck and can feel pretty sick. Of course though, people can also get those with COVID. So the bottom line is, that you need to get a test basically to know for sure,” Arwady said.