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Every few weeks, we periodically check in on the progression of the flu season, reporting on states that are either a rising threat for illness or ones that could be looming. With infection control such an important factor to reopening facilities and keeping schools open — and learning the best practices for doing so — it's also important to keep tabs on influenza in addition to COVID-19 concerns especially in the winter months. For states particularly afflicted by the flu, it's a good opportunity for facility managers to reinforce the importance of hygiene. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which provides updating information with their “Weekly U.S. Influenza Report” rates states on 6-tier scale: Very High, High, Moderate, Low, Minimal, and Insufficient data. Unsurprisingly, with the peak of winter weather and the holidays coupling for a surge in both travel and large indoor gatherings, flu season is unfortunately now in full-force.

The most recent findings (Week 52), which are up to date as of Jan 1., 2022, indicate nine jurisdictions as “Very High”: North Dakota, New Mexico, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, New York City, and New Jersey (the highest individual, jurisdiction for case rates). An additional 22 jurisdictions registered as “High”, while 10 fell into the “Moderate Category. The remaining 14 were either “Low”, “Minimal” or “Insufficient Data”. On a regional basis, most states along the West Coast were less severe than the East, but outliers exist on both ends of the spectrum. Midwestern states have been the least affected so far on-average, with North Dakota being the only state in “Very High” territory. Meanwhile, Wisconsin, Illinois Michigan, were all either “Minimal” or “Low”. 

These latest results show a significant turn from our most recent CleanLink coverage, in which only one jurisdiction (New Mexico) was “Very High” and an overwhelming majority jurisdictions (47) reported low or minimal numbers. On a year-by-year basis, last year is an outlier of low case rates due to the high presence shutdowns, but compared to two years ago at this time, the case rates are still actually lower on-average. In Week 52 during the 2019-2020 flu season, 10 different jurisdictions reached the top echelon of the “Very High” category, compared to just one this year.

Infection control measures are already being stressed in facilities all over the country due to the severe spike in COVID-19 Omicron variant cases, and these rising flu rates can serve as an extra reminder for building occupants who may feel fatigued by the ongoing mask mandates or infection control measures. A proactive approach is always the best route, including the promotion of handwashing, disinfecting high-touch surfaces frequently and ensuring the right products and resources are on-hand to do so. Click here for a detailed article on how cleaning managers and crews can maximize the effectiveness of infection control programs. 

Be sure to check back in to for additional flu updates as the season progresses.