Feb. 28 (UPI) -- COVID-19 may be spreading around the world, but it appears flu season may be abating, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In its weekly FluView report, released Friday, the agency noted that while there were an estimated 3 million new cases of influenza across the country during the week ending February 22, the percentage of laboratory specimens testing positive for the virus declined significantly, from 29.7 percent to 26.4 percent.
The percentage of visits to healthcare providers linked with flu-like symptoms also dropped over the same period, from 6.1 percent to 5.5 percent.
In all, the CDC estimates that 32 million Americans have been sickened with the flu so far in 2019-2020, with 310,000 of them requiring hospitalization. In addition, an estimated 18,000 have died in the U.S. from the flu and related complications, including 125 children.
The percentage of deaths across the country attributable to pneumonia and influenza during the week ending February 22 was 6.9 percent, still below the CDC's epidemic threshold of 7.3 percent.
According to the report, New York City, Puerto Rico and 43 states reported "high" flu activity during the last week of reporting. The states include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Although antiviral medications have proved effective against more than 99 percent of circulating strains of influenza, the CDC said, an area of concern is the increasing prevalence A-type strains. More than half of all laboratory-confirmed flu cases this season have involved the less virulent -- and transmissable -- B type.
However, more samples have tested positive for influenza A in recent weeks.
Still, the vaccine used for the current flu season has been more than 45 percent effective at preventing cases, the agency said.