Maricopa County is now in the “medium” community level of spread according to CDC, with a rolling average of over 1,200 new cases reported per day. At the same time, flu is widespread, well past the typical mid-winter peak and with significantly higher case counts than are usually seen at this time of year.
“While COVID-19 and flu are often mild, both diseases can cause severe illness for some people, to the point of needing hospitalization,” said Dr. Nick Staab, medical epidemiologist for Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH). “Luckily, we have tools to decrease the spread and severity for people.”
People can take several steps to reduce their chances of getting and spreading COVID-19 and flu:
- Stay up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines and get your flu vaccine in the fall
- Wash your hands frequently; use hand sanitizer if you can’t wash with soap and water
- Avoid touching your face and mouth, especially with unwashed hands
- Wear a well-fitting mask in crowded, indoor areas
- Stay home if you’re sick, except to get tested or other medical care
Symptoms for COVID-19 and flu are very similar:
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
“The only way to know for sure if you have COVID-19, flu, or neither is to get tested for both,” said Dr. Staab. Medications to decrease severe illness are available for both COVID-19 and flu if they are started soon after developing symptoms. Anyone with symptoms should stay away from others until they get test results to avoid spreading infection.
“While vaccines do not prevent 100% of infections, they do a good job at reducing the chances that you’ll get infected,” added Dr. Staab. “It’s still worth getting vaccinated because if you do end up sick after being vaccinated, your symptoms will typically be milder with a quicker recovery.” This helps prevent severe cases and hospitalizations, especially for those who are at higher risk of severe illness, like older adults and those who are immunocompromised.
For more information, including symptoms, vaccine locations, and case counts, please visit:
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