Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Puerto Rico, New York City, Washington, D.C. and 34 states across the country reported "high" flu activity as 2019 came to a close, according to the latest report from the Centers Disease Control and Prevention.
In all, the agency noted in its latest FluView data, released Friday, there have been at least 6.4 million Americans sickened so far during the current flu season. This has resulted in an estimated 55,000 hospitalizations and 2,900 deaths, through December 28, the CDC added.
The surge in cases during the most recent period -- through December 21, the CDC had estimated that 4.6 million Americans had contracted the influenza virus -- was likely fueled by high flu activity in nearly three dozen states, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Overall, the percentage of deaths in the United States attributable to pneumonia and flu during the week ending December 28 was 5.5 percent, down from 5.7 percent the previous week and still below the 6.4 percent threshold the CDC uses to determine whether there is an epidemic.
However, five more children died from flu-related causes across the country between December 22 and 28, bringing the season total to 27.
In a sign the flu season is entering its peak period, the CDC noted that 6.9 percent of all visits to healthcare providers in the U.S. during the most recent week analyzed were brought on by "influenza-like illness." This is up from 5.1 percent the previous week.
On the positive side, virtually all -- more than 99 percent, to be exact -- of the influenza virus samples tested this season have been found to be susceptible to the four Food and Drug Administration-approved influenza antiviral medications recommended for use.