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Flu cases decrease in New York for first time this winter

For the first time since the state health department declared the flu 'widespread' in December, new diagnoses have decreased.
Amid the state’s worst flu season in 10 years, city health officials are urging New Yorkers to get flu shots and stay home if they have the virus.
Amid the state’s worst flu season in 10 years, city health officials are urging New Yorkers to get flu shots and stay home if they have the virus. (iStock)

For the first time this winter, there looks to be some relief from the flu in New York state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that throughout in New York, there was a 25 percent drop in the number of lab-confirmed cases of the flu last week — a first for the state since the health department categorized the flu as “widespread” in December.

As of Feb. 24, there have been more than 101,300 lab-confirmed cases of the flu reported in New York state and more than 18,200 people hospitalized with the flu this season.

Five children have died from the flu and more than 1,200 children have been hospitalized because of the respiratory illness.

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Last week, New York state saw 13,700 reports of lab-confirmed influenza. That’s a drop from the week before, for which there were 18,250 cases of the flu — the highest weekly number since reporting began in 2004.

Flu-related hospitalizations also went down  21 percent.

"While the decrease we are seeing in both the number of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases and hospitalizations is encouraging news, New Yorkers must continue to be vigilant,” Dr. Howard Zucker, commissioner of the state health department, said in a statement.

Earlier this flu season, Cuomo issued an executive order allowing children 2 years and older to receive a flu vaccine. He also enacted more reimbursement efforts to provide financial support so local areas could properly respond to the flu emergency by vaccinating more residents.

“Thanks to Governor Cuomo's efforts, more New Yorkers than ever have access to the flu vaccine and antiviral medications,” Zucker said in his statement. “I encourage anyone who hasn't yet been vaccinated to take advantage of these opportunities: it's not too late. And I am again reminding all New Yorkers to practice good hand hygiene and stay home if they are sick."