COVID-19 is worse than the annual flu, doctor says Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Dr. Mike Elliot of Avera wanted to make sure people understood the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic when he spoke during a city of Sioux Falls COVID-19 news conference Monday.

Elliot said he’s heard comments such as maybe COVID-19 isn’t all that bad or that it’s media hype. Neither of those two comments or anything similar are true, Elliot said.

So far, more than 170,000 people have died from COVID-19 this year in the U.S. and 5.5 million have had it, Elliot said.

The flu has killed on average 12,000 to 60,000 a year in the U.S. since 2010, Elliot said.

The mortality rate for the flu is about 0.1% while the mortality rate for COVID-19 is about 3% to 5%, according to the World Health Organization. The date rate in the U.S. as of early Aug. 18 was about 3.1%, according to Johns Hopkins. South Dakota’s rate was 17 deaths per 100,000 people as of Aug. 17.

The Centers for Disease Control uses 12,000 to 61,000 flu-related deaths a year in the U.S. on average since 2010. The CDC estimates that from Oct. 1, 2019 through April 4, 2020, in the U.S. there have been 39,000,000 to 56,000,000 flu-like illnesses in the U.S. Between 410,000 and 740,00 individuals were hospitalized with the flu and there were 24,000 to 62,000 deaths. The 2019-2020 numbers are preliminary, according to the CDC.

The COVID-19 numbers in the U.S. are not good and they aren’t good in South Dakota either, Elliot said.

As of Monday’s news conference, the state had 150 deaths and more than 10,000 cases, Elliot said.

According to the South Dakota Department of Health website, 927 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Aug. 18 and 154 had died. The state has 10,443 cases.

The DOH tracks statistics from the flu season including confirmed cases, deaths and hospitalizations.

The COVID-19 numbers have passed the flu case total for 2018-2019 (9,555) and are more than a recorded high of 100 flu deaths in 2017-2018. Those were the most deaths recorded over the past 10 years, according to the DOH.

The COVID-19 hospitalized patient count of 921 so far, is close to the highest flu hospitalization number ever recorded, according to the DOH. In 2016-2017, 960 people were hospitalized with the flu.

South Dakota had 9,555 cases of the flu during the 2018-2019 flu season, according the South Dakota Department of Health. Thirty-three people died and 567 were hospitalized.

The state recorded its first COVID-19 case on March 10, about six months ago. A CDC chart of peak flu months from the 1982-1983 flu season through the 2017-2018 flu season shows a six-month peak period. The chart shows flu season runs from October through March with most peaks in February during that time period.

Elliot and Dr. Mike Wilde of Sanford said coronavirus cases in the Sioux Falls area will continue to rise.

“We aren’t through this yet,” Elliot said.

While the health care system and the public are still dealing with COVID-19, the flu season is approaching.

The two doctors urged area residents to get a flu vaccine.

“While it’s not a 100 percent effective vaccination, it’s somewhat effective in eliminating the risk that you would get influenza,” Wilde said.

“If we could get that out of the equation as COVID-19 is in our community that would really be helpful to all of us including all of us, including us as health care providers,” Wilde said.

The vaccination is not available yet, Wilde said. But he encouraged residents to get the vaccination as soon as it was available and clinically appropriate.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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