WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- As if the COVID-19 crisis isn't enough, state and local health officials are gearing up for another major threat, the upcoming flu season.
"Some insurance against what we lazily refer to as the 'Twindemic' of flu and COVID season," said Governor Gavin Newsom.
"The symptoms are very similar. As a doctor, I'll tell you. It's gonna be hard to tell the difference," explained California State Senator Dr. Richard Pan.
That's why hospitals like John Muir will test for both, to determine the best treatments.
"We have a few different testing platforms," said Dr. Russell Rodriguez, Director of Emergency Medicine for John Muir Health, "Two of which really just test for COVID and a third platform that we're increasing capacity for, that tests for COVID, influenza and the most common respiratory viruses."
One area of concern, schools could make reopening decisions based on COVID-19, only to be hit later by a surge in flu cases, although flu outbreaks alone don't normally cause school closures.
In short, medical experts strongly urge people to get a flu shot this year.
"We don't have polio today, we don't have smallpox today," said Dr. Michael Matthay, professor of medicine with UCSF. "We don't have severe influenza. Vaccinations have changed the whole scope of medical care."
Perhaps the only bright spot in all of this. The fact that we're all masking up for coronavirus may actually keep the spread of the flu in check.
Evidence from Australia and the Southern Hemisphere indicates all the coronavirus precautions stifled a major flu outbreak there.
"One of the suppositions was because of masking and social distancing, a supposition, not proven, but I think that makes a certain amount of sense to me," said Dr. George Rutherford, UCSF epidemiologist.
It's a trend, experts hope also plays out here.
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