Flu cases down amid COVID-19, doctors warn it could come back worse next year


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Flu cases in the state and across the country are at record lows while COVID-19 cases remain steady in Hawaii. Local doctors say they are relieved that we are not seeing a so-called “twin-demic” with COVID-19 and the flu, but that it could come at a later time.

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“I think we’re going to look back on this year and see it as one of the lowest flu years in history,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

Green said, hospitals test for both the flu and COVID-19 when a person comes in with respiratory symptoms. Local hospitals have not seen that many flu patients so far.

“In the hospital, where I’ve been, I’ve tested everyone negative except for one person – just only one case of flu – and I’m used to seeing dozens over the course of the wintertime.”


He said, this is mainly due to all the precautions people are taking from wearing masks to social distancing and even washing their hands more.

“Everyone’s very kind of hyper sensitized to the potential for a virus this year. So, there’s that. People are being careful,” said Green.

“A lot of people have online school. They have online meetings. They’re working from home. They’re not going out and about,” said Dr. Shilpa Patel, Hawaii Pacific Health physician liaison for Patient Safety and Quality.

Patel said, Hawaii Pacific Health has also seen one of the highest rates of flu vaccinations for both patients and staff this flu season compared to previous years.

There is a drawback to not seeing as many flu cases this year, however.

“One hazard of not seeing flu this year is that we won’t build up any immunity to whatever strain of influenza would’ve been around or may come around next year,” said Patel. “And so we may be hit harder next year with influenza and also dealing with COVID as well, because COVID is not going to go away.”

While doctors are optimistic that Hawaii will continue to see low flu numbers in the next few weeks, they say we are not out of the woods yet.

“We’re still mindful because the flu season comes to Hawaii later than any other part of the country. The flu tends to travel east to west, and so our peak flu season can sometimes occur in February or even March. We can still be getting heavy flu.”


“So please, everyone, continue to do the right thing, get your flu shot, and then if you do feel sick or any of these symptoms, call your doctor, but the best thing to do is stay at home,” said Green.

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