Cases of the flu are down in the Greenwood area so far, and local health care providers are attributing that to precautions taken to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Sandy Fink, an infection prevention nurse at Greenwood Leflore Hospital, said in an email that the hospital only dealt with one flu case in November and one in December.

For this month, the hospital has not yet had any cases of the flu. The flu season runs from October through April, and Fink said the hospital typically deals with most of its cases from January through March.

The hospital had nine cases in November 2019, 58 cases that December and 114 in January 2020.

Regarding the drop in flu cases, Fink said, “I think everyone wearing masks and the use of hand sanitizer probably has a lot to do with it and also the ‘social distancing’ and reduction in the size of gatherings. One of the two flu cases we had this year also had COVID. So, continue to wear the masks, wash your hands frequently, and abstain from large social gatherings!”

The flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses but are caused by different viruses.

Cathy Jennings, a pharmacist at Downtown Drugs, said that typically the pharmacy would hand out three to four flu prescription treatments a day.

Prior to Wednesday, Jennings said, no customers had been prescribed medications for the flu. Jennings also said that she hasn’t been aware of anyone within her social circle who has had the flu this season.

Like Fink, Jennings attributed the decrease to safety precautions undertaken due to COVID-19.

“A virus is a virus,” Jennings said, explaining that the same measures taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 — wearing masks, practicing social distancing and washing hands — also limit the spread of the flu.

Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com

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