With state officials still trying to figure out when Illinois will hit its peak of coronavirus cases this spring, there is also concern that another wave of the disease in the fall could once again tax healthcare systems and workers.
On Tuesday, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said that she is concerned that another wave of coronavirus cases, coupled with the annual surge in influenza cases in the fall, could cause some serious problems for healthcare workers and hospitals.
“I think we should be concerned obviously,” she said. “We know fall is traditionally an established time for flu outbreaks, and if there was supposed to be any resurgence of COVID-19, we can see why it would be at that time.”
Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the flu caused serious troubles for the country’s healthcare system. An estimated 39 million to 56 million flu illnesses were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and an estimated 18-to-26 million medical visits related to the flu have been reported since October.
Estimates for flu-related death this season range from 24,000 to 62,000, according to the CDC, and those numbers, coupled with another wave of COVID-19, could cause serious issues in Illinois and elsewhere.
“If you had COVID-19 as well as the flu, that could be a significant second wave,” Ezike said.
The director says that state officials are following information on second waves of the coronavirus worldwide, and said that the lack of established treatments, or a vaccine, for COVID-19 would only compound the problem.
“Without a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, those two overlaid could be very problematic,” she said.
More than 33,000 people in Illinois have been diagnosed with COVID-19 during the pandemic, with nearly 1,500 deaths reported as a result of the virus. Nationwide, the CDC estimates that 776,000 people have contracted the virus, while 41,758 people have died, according to estimates.