For the second time this season, the Rhode Island health department has declared flu widespread. That means that any unvaccinated health care workers must wear surgical masks around patients until the declaration of “widespread” is lifted. Flu was declared widespread in Rhode Island for most of January and February this year. But the health department says this time is more intense than the first.
The dominant strain now affects the elderly, in particular. 13 people have died from flu in Rhode Island this season, all of them in their 80s and 90s.
More than 460 people have been hospitalized because of the flu this season, a sizeable percentage of those in the past few weeks.
State health officials say it’s not too late to get vaccinated and that there’s plenty of vaccine left. They recommend it especially for young children, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions.