Roanoke health district leader talks flu, COVID activity for fall

Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 3:51 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - What COVID-19 will hold for us as we head into fall and winter is unclear, but there are some promising signs.

During her virtual public health update Tuesday morning, Dr. Cynthia Morrow with the Roanoke City - Alleghany Health Districts said overall COVID activity in our region and in the state appears to be declining.

She did acknowledge the testing data are less reliable in getting us the full bigger picture because of home testing. But all data sets they monitor are pointing to decreased activity, with the exception of local hospitalizations, which ticked up slightly in the last week.

That said, Dr. Morrow is always reminding us to be humble when it comes to this virus. It’s challenging for public health leaders to predict exactly what it will do.

“I think that all of us are hoping that between the amount of vaccine that we’ve had out there with our new booster shot that covers both Omicron and the original strain, and with a lot of natural immunity, we’re certainly hoping that the worst continues to be behind us,” Morrow said. “But we do expect COVID-19 activities to continue to fluctuate.”

Dr. Morrow said as of right now there are no new variants to watch.

As for the flu, Dr. Morrow said the health district begins counting flu cases in early October. She said it’s still too early to predict what the season will be like. That said, now is the optimal time for vaccinations.

“And I certainly encourage anybody who’s concerned about the upcoming influenza season to get vaccinated. This is the prime time to get vaccinated,” she said. “September and October are the months we really wanna get everybody vaccinated to be optimally protected. So, if you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, I certainly encourage you to go out and do so.”

COVID mitigation strategies appear to have helped tamper flu activity last two years. Currently, Morrow said there is some flu activity already but it’s mostly low level. Most flu seasons hit their peak in January and February.