Memorial Health System hospitals are seeing a dramatic decrease this year in the number of influenza cases, thanks in part to precautions being taken to slow the spread of COVID-19.
From October to now, only six people have been hospitalized for influenza at Memorial Health System’s five hospitals: Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Decatur Memorial Hospital, Passavant Area Hospital in Jacksonville, Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Lincoln and Taylorville Memorial Hospital. Last year, that number was 99.
The hospitals collectively have seen only 29 lab-confirmed cases of influenza, compared to 2,013 at this time last year.
“It’s a dramatic difference,” said Gina Carnduff, Memorial Health System director of infection prevention. “The things that we are doing to prevent COVID-19 – wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene and keeping social distance – also help to reduce our odds of contracting the flu.”
Carnduff noted that COVID-19 is much more infectious than influenza, but that both diseases are transmitted through the air and close contact with others.
“Last year’s flu season was pretty severe," Carnduff said. “We encourage people to stay diligent about washing your hands and wearing masks. These steps do help reduce the risk of disease transmission, both for COVID-19 and influenza.”
Numbers of cases, hospitalization by hospital:
Memorial Medical Center: Seven cases, one hospitalization.
Decatur Memorial Hospital: 16 cases, five hospitalizations.
Passavant Area Hospital: Zero cases or hospitalizations.
Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital: Four cases, no hospitalizations.
Taylorville Memorial Hospital: Two cases, no hospitalizations.