It turns out that I am not alone. This year's flu season – long feared as the second head of a two-headed monster – was decidedly more Matt Gaetz brain than Matt Gaetz skull (i.e., walnut-sized as opposed to dormitory refrigerator).
This is almost certainly due to the coronavirus containment efforts that have helped flatten the COVID-19 curve, even as our ex-president did everything in his power to secure our place in the record books.
Serious question: if masks and social distancing don't work, then what the hell happened to the flu?
– Sam Ghali, M.D. (@EM_RESUS) February 28, 2021
For the non-tweeters: "Serious question: if masks and social distancing don't work, then what the hell happened to the flu? "
Of course, this guy is a doctor, so of course Qonservatives will immediately reject his targeted question and / or counter it with something Donald Trump read on the back of a lucky charm box, but Dr. Ghali makes a good point. What happened to the annual flu season, which has traditionally been a deadly killer in itself?
The flu is virtually gone in the US, and reports are far lower than they have been for decades.
Experts say measures to ward off the coronavirus – wearing masks, social distancing, and virtual schooling – were an important factor in preventing a "Twindemic" of flu and COVID-19. Trying to get more people vaccinated against the flu likely helped, as did fewer travelers, they say.
According to a surveillance system around 25 years old, this is "the lowest flu season we've ever had," said Lynnette Brammer of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the midst of a brutal pandemic, we will have these small victories. Given that flu typically kills tens of thousands of Americans each year, “small” is probably not the right way to describe it.
One possible partial explanation for these lower numbers, according to the AP, is that COVID-19 "essentially built muscle alongside flu and other insects" that can appear in winter. Scientists do not fully understand this phenomenon, but it has been seen in competing strains of flu in the past.
Even so, the decline in flu cases was remarkable. And it happened across the country. Dr. Nate Mick, director of the emergency department at Maine Medical Center in Portland, told the AP, "I haven't seen any documented flu cases this winter."
In addition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, only one death from childhood flu has been reported, up from 92 at the same time last year.
That's a beautiful, calming ray of sunshine in the middle of a dark, depressing winter.
Personally, I hate getting sick. I can wear a mask in shops and cinemas for the rest of my life. And not just because I don't want to be recognized. But that would be an advantage.
Social distancing? Um, I've pretty much always done that.
What about you? Will you keep masking after it's all over? Let me know in the accompanying survey.
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