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Some Tri-State health leaders worry about one-two punch of COVID, flu

Virus Outbreak US Surge hospital COVID-19
Posted at 11:41 PM, Jan 04, 2022

CINCINNATI — As COVID-19 infections soar, flu cases are also starting to rise in Ohio.

While the number of flu cases this season is well below the average, some local health care workers said they are concerned about a one-two punch between the two.

"[We] always see a spike in flu cases coming out of the Christmas holiday for the very reason we're concerned about a spike in COVID cases," said Dr. Steve Feagins, chief clinical officer for Mercy Health-Cincinnati.

With both COVID and flu cases on the rise, Jewish Hospital's Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Imran Naqvi said he expected people to come down with both at the same time — a condition coined as "flurona."

"I think that will absolutely happen during flu season — one of the things that gets people into trouble is really co-infection with other viruses or bacteria," Naqvi said. "Do I think it would cause somebody to have a worse outcome? Some of the outcomes we're seeing in some of our elderly patients or some of our patients with co-morbid conditions with COVID-19 that aren't vaccinated, they're horrific."

Naqvi said he worries some are downplaying the severity of the omicron variant.

"It allows people to think that they can deal with it, and I should be fine — and hopefully you will be, but maybe you have family members that may not have the same robust immune system you do," Naqvi said. "I think we're at the beginning of what may be a larger surge than what most are anticipating."

As the temperature drops, Naqvi said the community could see a long fight ahead.

"The winter is just starting," Naqvi said. "There's a lot of strategies that each of us can take to mitigate those risks."

Those strategies include getting vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19, as well as getting the booster shot. There have not been any reported cases of "flurona" in the United States. One case was confirmed in a pregnant woman in Israel. Health officials report she was sent home from the hospital in "good condition."

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