"I wish that there were better news this week, but nearly everything we're looking at is bad news", Schuchat said.
During the fifth week, spanning January 28 to February 5, the number of pediatric flu deaths increased by 10, bringing the total to 63, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The rate of flu deaths week-to-week remained similar to the last two weeks. In particular, the strain influenza A H3N2, which has caused the most illness so far this season, is hard to contain through vaccination. "Her school nurse sent her home with a 102-fever", said Keyona's mom.
She said the confirmed death involved the strain influenza B, which is widely circulating in southwestern Ontario.
The CDC reports this week that 63 people out of every 100,000 between the ages of 50 and 64 have been hospitalized with the flu. OR and Hawaii are the two exceptions.
The city Health Department confirmed the death, but refused to provide any other details.
"We do know that some physicians have run out of influenza testing kits in their offices", Dr. Landers said. Since October, the department reports that it has "investigated 27 flu outbreaks in long-term care facilities, a number that is already more than the number of outbreaks investigated the entire 2016-2017 flu season".
With the 2018 flu season in full force, the University of West Florida's Student Health Service is recommending students receive their flu vaccinations as quickly as possible. This heartbreaking number is up 18 percent (10 deaths) from last week's totals, and it is unlikely to stabilize any time soon.
Those high rates may also be a harbinger of worse things to come, Schuchat added, as there's typically a lag between hospitalizations and deaths from influenza and pneumonia, a common complication of the illness. Trinity has also seen a decline in the number of patients admitted to the hospital with the flu.
"We don't have any signs of hospitalizations leveling off yet", said Schuchat. Flu vaccine and anti-viral medications are available but many pharmacies have limited supplies. Based on a recent Canadian report, the effectiveness against B strain viruses is estimated to be about 55%. At this point, she said if you suspect flu, you're likely correct. So far, it has not been a remarkably bad year for flu deaths.