New York governor: Flu season worsens each week

New York governor: Flu season worsens each week
© Getty Images

New York's historic flu season is continuing to worsen every week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Thursday.

Cuomo said the state confirmed more than 11,600 cases of influenza reported to the health department over the past week, with more than 2,200 people hospitalized.

Cuomo said the numbers are the highest weekly in both categories since reporting began in 2004. They exceed last week's record 7,779 confirmed cases and 1,759 hospitalizations.

ADVERTISEMENT

New York is not the only state experiencing such records. Federal officials said last week that this flu season is more intense than any since the 2009 swine flu pandemic and likely to get worse. Forty-nine states have reported widespread activity for three consecutive weeks.

Cuomo last week declared a disaster emergency, allowing pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to children as young as 2 years old. New York law limits the authority of pharmacists to administer vaccines to anyone under age 18, but the emergency declaration temporarily suspended that policy.

The state Department of Health said it is working with health insurers to ensure ongoing access to antiviral medication across New York.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is on the front lines dealing with public health threats, and it has been working overtime this season to address the flu.

The CDC is also grappling with the abrupt resignation this week of its director, Brenda Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald had told reporters just last week that 37 children had died from the flu this year. But Fitzgerald is now out as CDC director, following reports that she bought tobacco stocks while in office — something that runs counter to the agency's public health mission.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration said it is working to overcome shortages of important IV saline bags. The agency said production at manufacturing plants is ramping up, but rising demand may continue to put a strain on availability.