Flu Flew

As much as the COVID-19 pandemic painted Oklahoma into a corner this year, flu season came to the state with all the impact of a feather floating in air.

According to the most recent information from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, there were just 161 hospitalizations of influenza patients between September 1, 2020, and February 6. And statewide, just seven people have died.

There’s been speculation that influenza numbers are down so drastically due to the measures taken against COVID – wearing masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing – though those same measures have failed to put COVID in check.

Consider 3,959  COVID deaths from March 2020 when the global pandemic reached the United States through February 12.

COVID-19 hasn’t spared McClain County. Residents account for 4,924 cases and 43 deaths, according to OSDH data. Blanchard is the county’s hot spot for the virus with 2,077 cases and a dozen deaths.

Purcell follows with 1,370 cases and 18 deaths.

COVID numbers for other McClain County towns include Newcastle, 1,196 cases, 8 deaths; Washington, 377 cases, 3 deaths; Wayne, 240 cases, 2 deaths; Byars, 96 cases, 1 death, Goldsby, 36 cases,  no deaths, and Dibble, 23 cases, no deaths.

Other area towns offer some perspective. Lexington accounts for 1,163 COVID cases and 14 deaths. Maysville has had 245 cases and 7 deaths, while Paoli and Wanette come in at 204 and 131 cases, respectively. The virus took two lives in Paoli. In Slaughterville, there have been two cases and no deaths.

Statewide, there have been 410,818 cases as of February 12. Of those, 22,461 were considered active, according to the OSDH.

And since vaccines against the virus first became available in late 2020, 447,323 Oklahomans have received the first dose and 173,423 have completed the two-dose regimen for a total of 620,746 doses administered.

Nationally, more than 27,392,500 people have contracted the COVID virus. And the death toll stood at 475,444 on February 12.

As of February 6, only one flu patient in McClain County was admitted to the hospital.

Before the 2020-21 flu season, the smallest number of flu patients requiring hospitalization was 322. That was in the 2011-12 season when the death count stopped at 10.

Another light year for the flu was 2015-16 when there were 566 hospitalizations and 17 deaths.

In recent years, the flu has hit hard, with hospitalizations in the thousands.

The peak season for the flu was 2017-18 when 4,840 patients were admitted to hospitals. The flu killed 293 Oklahomans that season.

There was a slight decline in flu numbers in 2018-19 with 3,007 hospitalizations and 87 deaths. But a slight spike followed in 2019-20 – 3,580 hospital admissions and 83 deaths.

Data from other years includes 2009-10, 1,241 hospitalized, 47 deaths; 2010-11, 1,002 hospitalized, 27 deaths; 2012-13, 1,089 hospitalized, 43 deaths; 2013-14, 1,385 hospitalized, 78 deaths; 2016-17, 2,426 hospitalized, 137 deaths.

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