Pennsylvania is one of those states.
Since Oct. 1, 5,249 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported nationwide. That number translates to 18.8 influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 people in the United States.
We're feeling it here in the Lehigh Valley.
Cases are so many, that a "medical surge tent" is serving as a secondary emergency room for treating patients with flu symptoms and minor injuries at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest.
The hospital has also instituted temporary restrictions effective today for visitors. According to restrictions, visitors under age 18 are not permitted in the hospital and people with flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, body aches) are asked not to come to the hospital for visitation for fear of spreading the virus.
For businesses, the flu outbreak also means taking adequate steps so their enterprise doesn't feel the body aches, fevers and overall blahs the flu brings about. The Travelers Risk Control Team recommends companies take the following steps to ensure the flu doesn't sabotage their operations.
• Create contingency plans: Plans should be created to advise employees how to report sickness to their manager or other office members.
• Set up protocols: According to the CDC, people infected with flu may be able to infect others from one day before getting sick to about 5-7 days after getting sick. "Tell your employees to stay home if they have the flu and make it clear. People think: 'I'm going to be a hero and come into work even though I don't feel well.' They might not actually be a hero in doing that," said Nim Traeger, vice president Casualty Services Risk Control at Travelers.
• Purchase cleaning supplies: Make hand sanitizer, alcohol-based gels or water and hand soap available to employees. Also, employers should consider speaking with their nighttime cleaning service to ensure they are using the right kinds of products that will kill germs and cut down on the spread of flu.
Get Immunized! The Allentown Health Bureau at 245 N. Sixth St. is offering free flu shots from 2-4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25. In Bethlehem, residents can be immunized by calling (610) 865-7083 to be scheduled into an immunization clinic.