A second child has died of influenza in Wisconsin even as the disease continues to spread, state health officials said Thursday.
“We’re going to have at least 500 or more hospitalizations (during the past week), and this is a significant increase from previous weeks,” Tom Haupt, influenza surveillance coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said during a teleconference.
But it’s believed the illness hasn’t yet reached its peak in Wisconsin, Haupt said, and it probably won’t for several more weeks. Because of that, Haupt urged people to get flu shots if they haven't yet done so.
“We have had over 40% of the residents of Wisconsin being vaccinated, which is a record, but we have to look at from the opposite way. … Sixty percent are not vaccinated,” he said.
Haupt provided few details about the pediatric death except to say that the child lived in southern Wisconsin.
The briefing had been announced as an update on the novel coronavirus — now officially known as COVID-19. But there was little to report. There still has been only one case confirmed in Wisconsin, the officials said.
Haupt said the risk to Wisconsin residents from COVID-19 is “very low.” Nationally, fewer than 5% of cases tested for COVID-19 have been confirmed, he said. In contrast, one out of three flu tests come out positive.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Health reported an uptick in influenza-related hospitalizations, to 249 for the week ending Feb. 8 from 223 the week before. More than 1,900 people have been hospitalized for the flu in Minnesota so far this influenza season. Eighty-six of those have been in Northeastern Minnesota, including 14 in the most recent week.
So far in Minnesota, 48 people have had “influenza-associated” deaths in Minnesota, one of which was a pediatric death.
The state has had only three cases checked for COVID-19, and all of those tested negative, health department spokesman Doug Schultz said.
Earlier this week, Essentia Health reported an individual who had been in China had been evaluated in the Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center emergency room for a respiratory condition. But after consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was determined the patient didn’t need to be tested for COVID-19.