Dec. 2 (UPI) -- An increasing number of doctor visits across the country are linked with the flu -- a sign the 2019-20 season is officially underway.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's weekly FluView report, released Monday, 2.9 percent of all visits to healthcare providers across the country for the week ending Nov. 23 were related to influenza, up from 2.5 percent the previous week.
Once again, seven states -- Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas -- and Puerto Rico reported high flu-related activity over the most recent week covered. Those same regions had reported high activity during the prior week.
However, for the first time this flu season, an additional seven states -- Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Nebraska, Nevada, Virginia and Washington -- reported moderate virus activity.
To date, 9,821 people across the country have tested positively for confirmed influenza virus since the end of September. There were more than 2,100 new cases confirmed during the week ending Nov. 23.
The percentage of outpatient visits to healthcare providers related to influenza-like illness increased to 6.8 percent for the most recent week, up from 1.5 percent.
In all, the CDC noted, 5.1 percent of all deaths reported across the country from November 17-23 were related to pneumonia and influenza. This figure remains below the agency's "epidemic threshold" of 6.3 percent.
The agency said that, according to its most recent figures,five children nationally have died due to flu-related causes since the start of the current season.