Washington health officials say flu deaths, hospitalizations on the rise

The Washington State Department of Health says that flu hospitalizations are at the highest rate seen in 10 years. Combined with other respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and RSV, it's straining hospitals already at emergency capacity.

"This is turning out to be rather severe flu year in Washington State," said Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department division director Nigel Turner.

Turner said right now, Washington is experiencing a very high level of flu activity, and numbers are expected to increase in weeks to come. 

"The flu is a very serious condition, something that we need to take very seriously, that puts those at most vulnerable in our community at significant risk," said Turner. "So far in Pierce County, we’ve unfortunately had two deaths that have been reported due to flu; these are people in their 60s with underlying health conditions."

In Washington, 13 people have died, including two children and 11 adults and the DOH says prevention measures are key to lowering the risk of contracting viruses. 

RELATED: Washington hospitals already struggling with capacity grapple with RSV, flu season

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Turner encourages everyone to follow healthcare procedures.

"Hand washing, hand sanitizer remain really important," said Turner. "Covering your cough, staying home when you’re sick."

Seattle Children’s Hospital has seen pediatric volumes 200–300% above the norm in the ER this time of year, all due to the number of kids getting their first RSV and flu infection.