There were fewer than 4,000 flu cases this season compared to nearly 131,000 last season.

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

HARRISBURG (KDKA) – Pennsylvania’s Acting Health Secretary says the mild flu season is a testament to how effective COVID-19 mitigation efforts were.

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As flu season came to a close on May 22, the Health Department says there have been 3,664 laboratory-confirmed flu cases and 21 flu-associated deaths statewide.

It’s a trend that the Health Department says was seen nationally, and they credit it in part to COVID-19 mitigation efforts like mask-wearing and social distancing as well as a record number of people getting the flu shot.

Acting Health Secretary Allison Beam said there was a “stark difference” between this flu season with under 4,000 cases and last flu season with nearly 131,000 cases.

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As to whether the state would ever adopt strategies used to fight COVID-19 during flu season, state leaders wouldn’t say.

“I can’t speak to whether we would mandate mask wearing for upcoming flu seasons. What I can say is that I believe we’ve learned a lot of lessons in regard to public health actions as we move forward. And some of those lessons include masking up when you’re symptomatic or potentially masking up when you’re in a public place and symptomatic, washing your hands, utilization of hand sanitizer, even social distancing in specific circumstances,” said Health Preparedness and Community Deputy Secretary Ray Barishansky.

Instead, Barishansky says actions like mask-wearing “are things that we should contemplate personally as we move forward after COVID-19.”

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Since March of last year, there have been over 1.2 million cases of coronavirus and over 27,000 deaths in Pennsylvania.