PHOENIX - We are now officially in flu season, but you wouldn't know it if you looked at the current case numbers in Arizona.
As of Nov. 23, flu cases are low in Maricopa County, especially compared to this time last year. Doctors believe it's partly because of COVID-19 preventative measures like mask-wearing, but they also say it's too early to tell if the state will have a bad flu season.
"The main reason we know this is because of the data that we have from the southern hemisphere where we see that we had a very mild flu season," said Dr. Shad Marvasti with the University of Arizona.
Numbers from the state health department show a 92% percent decrease in flu cases from last year to this year, but Marvasti points out it's still very early in the flu season and that it typically peaks in Arizona in late February and March.
"That doesn’t mean for sure that this is because of the mitigation efforts of the masks. That could just mean that it’s going to tick up a little bit later this year. We’re already seeing it creep up in the last couple of weeks ..." Marvasti said.
He says healthcare workers are also concerned about the surge in COVID-19 cases during flu season, especially as hospital beds continue to fill up.
"It not only impacts the COVID-19 numbers, but it also impacts the flu and the fact that many people are traveling despite the CDC warning and the obvious risk that that is involved, obviously every family that has to make that, assess all the risks and decide what makes the most sense for them," Marvasti said.
Doctors are urging people to continue wearing masks and to get a flu shot.
For more information on COVID-19 and the flu in Arizona, visit this link.