Flu raging out of control: Fayette County eclipses previous three-year total

Americans encouraged to get flu shot as US prepares to battle both flu and COVID-19
Posted at 10:46 AM, Dec 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-08 10:46:33-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — We’ve returned to pre-pandemic levels as it pertains to our social lives, professional lives and in all other settings. But doing so has created a different public health issue for us across Kentucky.

“Last year we had four (reported) flu cases, and zero deaths. This year we have way surpassed that already,” said Christine King from the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.

So far this season, which began nine weeks ago, LFCHD has reported 1,294 cases of the flu with six deaths. 525 of those were reported in just the last week. Fayette County needed nine weeks to eclipse to total number of reported flu cases we had in the previous three flu seasons combined. It’s an alarming statistic at this point with peak flu season still several weeks away. And the reasons for this spike are quite obvious.

“People not wearing masks anymore. People returning to pre-pandemic lifestyles, getting back in groups, going to events and concerts and parties,” King said.

And the problem isn’t limited to just the densely populated area of Lexington.

“If you look at the last couple of weeks, our walk-in clinic is overwhelmed with the number of cases, and we’re probably over half the patients there with flu-like symptoms,” said Dr. Barry Dixon of Lake Cumberland Hospital.

Back in Fayette County, King said not as many people have been vaccinated for the flu as they were at this time last year.

“People are a little wary of vaccines because we’ve been pushing it so hard. But we push it hard because they help,” she stressed.

Based on how the start of this flu season is going around here we’re going to need all the help we can get.

“The masks are gone, everybody is together and we don’t pay attention to social distancing,” Dr. Dixon said.

The Walgreen’s Flu Index Kentucky ranked 7th in the nation for highest rate of flu spread during the last week while Lexington has the 9th highest for cities.