Health experts concerned about COVID-19 mixing with flu season, urge people to get vaccinated

SPOKANE, Wash.– The 123 reported COVID-19 cases in Spokane county are one reason why local health experts are worried about the next few months.

COVID-19 will mix in with the flu this fall and winter, and Spokane’s top health officer has called on the federal government to have a more collaborative approach.

“We have to do this as a nation, not state-by-state and county-by-county, and that’s unfortunately where we find ourselves right now,” Dr. Bob Lutz said.

Lutz said Spokane is still trying to get past its first wave of COVID-19 cases as the U.S. surpassed 200,000 deaths in this pandemic.

“It’s also a shame, because it didn’t have to be that way,” Lutz said. “This is not where we wanted to find ourselves going into flu season.”

Local hospitals learned from the start of this pandemic, when they dealt with a mix of covid and the flu.

A doctor from MultiCare said some patients have been infected with both at the same time, and those symptoms can be devastating.

“Combine them together and that overwhelming inflammation, and organ damage and cardiovascular damage could really be a deadly combination,” Dr. Gretchen LaSalle of MultiCare said.

There may not be a COVID-19 vaccine out yet, but the best way to keep yourself healthy this winter is by getting that flu shot.

It’s about 60 percent effective and could protect you for about 6 months. MultiCare said more people are also getting it earlier this year.

LaSalle said the best time to get your flu shot is between now and Halloween, and it’s never too late to get it if you don’t get it by then.

Dr. Lutz also said people can expect to need a mask in public and keep social distancing for several months.

He said even when a vaccine comes out for COVID-19, those precautions will still be in place for a while. He also said Spokane County has had no discussions about moving onto Phase 3.

Gov. Jay Inslee and state health officials currently have a pause on allowing any county to advance phases.

READ: Panhandle Health hosting drive-thru flu clinics around North Idaho 

READ: MultiCare to host multiple flu clinics across Spokane County