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Omicron, Flu, Cold? It’s All Going Around

January 7, 2022  ||  by Matt Albasi

Illness Is Everywhere

This year’s illness season is here, as COVID, flu and cold grip the nation. For the first time since the pandemic began, every state in the country is simultaneously at “Critical” COVID risk, according to HealthWeather. Beginning just before Christmas, Kinsa data showed fevers accelerating upward, with the number of fevers nationwide quadrupling during December. The same trend continued into the new year as Omicron swept the nation, flu bubbled up regionally, and the viruses that cause the common cold spread.

A map showing all 50 contiguous states at "critical" COVID-19 risk levels

Flu Cases are Highest in the East & Central U.S.

After more than a year with historically low levels of flu, this illness season returned to more normal levels with some regional differences. Kinsa data shows flu symptoms — such as fever, cough and sore throat — on the rise, and the CDC reported high levels of flu cases this week. For now, flu cases are primarily rising in the eastern and central regions of the country. Increasing flu symptoms and fevers in Kinsa data for South Dakota and Wyoming is reinforced by prescription data from Walgreens’ flu index, showing both states are hard-hit. Sign up for local illness alerts at healthweather.us to stay informed.

The One Region Experiencing More Respiratory Symptoms  

While Kinsa data shows reports of respiratory symptoms in all regions of the country increased during the first week of 2022, the trend is most pronounced in the south. These symptoms can be caused by COVID-19, flu, or a common cold, all of which are currently circulating. If you haven’t already, it’s never too late to begin taking precautionary steps to avoid illness: wear a high-quality mask (like an N95 or KN95) if available or double mask with a surgical and cloth mask when in public indoor spaces or in close contact with others, get your COVID booster shot, avoid large gatherings, and wash your hands often.  

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