NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - "We haven’t seen anything like this in ten years," Dr. William Schaffner, Infectious Disease Specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center says about this year's flu.
News4 compared flu case data from the Tennessee Department of health for the last week of 2019 and the last week of 2020.
At the end of 2019, 45 of 95 Tennessee counties had at least one positive influenza case. In the last six weeks of 2020, only two of Tennessee's 95 counties recorded one or more flu cases.
Likewise, in the last week of 2019, the health department recorded 4,948 positive flu cases among Tennesseans. In the last week of 2020, 620 were recorded.
"I think the distribution mechanism for the virus has been dampened so much that we’re not seeing very much influenza at all," Schaffner explained, referring to school-aged children. Students have either been learning remotely or wearing masks and social distancing at school. Schaffner suspects those are practices we'll take with us to the next flu season.
"Maybe wearing that mask is not such a bad idea during flu season. That’s what they do in many Asian countries. Maybe it will become more the social norm here, also," Schaffner says.