Most Recent Update
September 8, 2020, at 7:00 p.m.
For the past seven months, the attention of the world has been monopolized by COVID-19. It is now the beginning of September and new cases and deaths are increasing in multiple states nationwide, as well as in Puerto Rico. The ripple effects of this health crisis have been unprecedented: record-high unemployment; widespread school and university closures; staggering food and housing insecurity; escalating depression and other mental health issues; and unrelenting fatigue and burnout among front-line health care workers.
As bad as this all sounds, in a matter of a few weeks, we're probably going to have a convergence of both Flu and Coronavirus. The combination of COVID-19, Influenza and other acute and chronic illnesses such as heart attacks, strokes, cancer and accidents may paralyze our existing health care system. While the Flu comes every year, that doesn’t make it any less of a threat.
Preventing the Flu will help us save lives and preserve the health care resources we need to continue fighting COVID-19. It's important to get the flu vaccine every year, but perhaps even more important this year. In addition to receiving the vaccine, other preventative measures such as frequent hand washing, covering your cough or sneeze, refraining from touching your face, and staying home when you’re sick are simple, yet imperative measures you can take to curb the Flu.
COVID-19 vs. Flu
Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.
Similarities: Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
Differences: Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, including common signs and symptoms listed above. Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, different from flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell.
Anyone with symptoms should contact their provider for guidance, stay away from others and follow the instructions on how to isolate. If you are experiencing symptoms of any kind, do not go to work or school.