74 Washingtonians among 18,000 U.S. deaths from flu

Seventy-four people in Washington have died during the 2019-20 flu season, one of the indicators of what state health officials call a currently “elevated” level of the illness.

Of the fatalities, 68 were adults. Ten were from Pierce County, where a total of 12 people have died from influenza, authorities said.

The statewide and local numbers, which were reported March 11, are part of a national tally of an estimated 32 million cases of flu. Of those, 18,000 resulted in deaths and 310,000 in hospitalizations.

The severity of flu seasons—which typically last from October to April–is based on statistics from deaths, hospital emergency department and urgent-care visits, hospitalizations, and lab test results.

Officials said the current season’s status is “elevated” in Washington and Pierce County and “high” in the U.S.

Flu-related reports are separate from the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

According to the national Centers for Disease Control and other health authorities, people with flu suffer from fever (100 degrees or higher), coughing, sore throats and body aches. People with long-term health conditions are especially at risk. Other high-risk factors include ages 65 and up and 5 and younger. Doctor-prescribed treatment works best within 48 hours of the start of an illness.

Besides a flu vaccination, ways that health authorities recommend for avoiding and stopping flu include washing hands or using hand sanitizer frequently, covering mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing, and staying home when sick.