As Thanksgiving and the winter holidays approach, many are worried about the flareup of COVID-19, as the pandemic has been notorious for coming back during the travel season. For FSU students, the FSU v. UF game is a holiday in itself, and with the stadium being packed this upcoming Saturday, COVID-19 and the flu pose a major threat.
WHAT TO BE WORRIED ABOUT
This year in particular, medical professionals are concerned with a rise in flu cases and growing COVID-19 cases. However, the main concern for doctors this year is the flu.
Florida Health released a Florida Flu Review report collecting data from the week of Nov. 6- Nov. 12 highlighting increases in positive flu tests and emergency room visits.
The data shows that the 2022 flu season is significantly more severe than years prior. Specifically, within the last month, there has been a 300% increase in flu cases, as reported by Pledger.
“The mutations with this year’s flu variant are more severe. Within the past five or six days, we’re seeing COVID cases spike up between now and Christmas,” said emergency room scribe and FSU Cell and Molecular Science major William Pledger.
Flu shots are currently available at the University Health Services building, and more information about the flu can be found at fsunews.com.
WHAT ABOUT COVID-19?
COVID-19 cases are also climbing this Thanksgiving, with more individuals testing positive.
According to data from the New York Times and the CDC, in Leon County alone, there has been a 33% increase in COVID-19 cases within the last two weeks. In Hillsborough and Duval counties the COVID rate has increased by 30%. FSU’s foes in Alachua County are experiencing a 26% increase in cases.
As for other counties in Florida, the numbers are also rising causing many Florida citizens to seek treatment and medical advice in order to stay healthy.
COVID-19 vs. INFLUENZA
COVID-19 and the flu both share the same symptoms, making it difficult to differentiate between the two viruses.
Those with either virus may experience symptoms including fever, chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache and a runny or stuffy nose.
“The flu is really putting people out, even healthy people. Some people are very feverish, some are nauseous… we’ve seen both flu and strep throat,” says Pledger.
Going to a local healthcare facility or doctor’s office to take a COVID and flu test is recommended by the CDC when identifying between the two and when seeking treatment.
WHAT IF I HAVE SYMPTOMS?
Those with minor symptoms should think carefully before making the trip to the emergency room. While not unprecedented, physicians from other departments are assisting the ER in dealing with a volume overload.
“We’re always ready to see people at the ER, but if it’s just mild symptoms, just alternate Tylenol and Ibuprofen every four hours,” Pledger said. “The treatment we could provide is not so different than how you can be treated at home. It’s slowing us down from treating patients with more emergent symptoms.”
The most effective way of seeking treatment for mild COVID-19 or flu symptoms is to visit your primary care physician or stay home and rest. If you are experiencing difficulty breathing or other major symptoms, it is recommended that you see a doctor.
HOW TO STAY HEALTHY
To slow the spread of the flu, University Health Services (UHS) recommends “covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, washing your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based rub, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated using an approved product.”
As for COVID-19, the CDC recommends avoiding large crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated areas, socially distancing when necessaey, and keeping up good hygiene.
The best way to prevent contracting either illness is to receive a flu shot and get a COVID vaccination.
This year, the FSU Clinic is offering free flu shots for students to boost campus immunity. Students can get their flu shot by scheduling an appointment online or showing up as a walk-in.
For students fearful of vaccine side effects, Pledger said, “If you get sick from the flu vaccine, that just means that your body is responding well to it, and the vaccine is doing its job.”
As for COVID-19 vaccinations, the FSU clinic is not offering COVID vaccinations this year. However, it is recommended by the CDC to visit local pharmacies or doctors’ offices to receive a vaccine.
For more information on flu shot dates and times visit the UHS website or call (850) 644-4567.