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HOLD YOUR BREATH

The first good news of this year’s terrible flu season

By Elijah Wolfson

Either the worst flu season the US has suffered in many years is coming to an end, or Americans are just getting used to having the viral infection.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today that the agency’s “sentinel” health care providers reported a drop in patients coming in with flu-like symptoms, going from 7.4% for the week ending Feb. 10 to 6.4% for the week ending Feb. 17.

That’s the first time this flu season that this number hasn’t risen week over week. It doesn’t necessarily mean the threat of the flu is completely eradicated—there’s always the possibility that this week was an outlier—but it is the first good news in what’s been an awful 2017-18 flu season. Already there have been 97 pediatric deaths this season, far outpacing the past two flu seasons, and on track to surpass 2014-2015, when there were 148 reported pediatric deaths by the time the flu season was called. Even after the drop, the entire US is still seeing flu cases at a level well above the national baseline of 2.2%.