April 3 (UPI) -- More than 8 percent of all deaths across the United States over the past week have been linked with pneumonia and influenza, a number on the rise likely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Friday.
In its latest FluView report, released Friday, the CDC said that 39 million people have been sickened by the flu in 2019-20.
Those with severe, life-threatening cases of the new coronavirus typically develop pneumonia, or an infection that causes inflammation in the lower respiratory tract. Many of the deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza may have actually been caused by COVID-19, which as of Friday morning has killed more than 6,000 Americans.
In all, so far this winter season, the flu has caused death in roughly 24,000 people across the country, the CDC estimates, including 162 children. The percentage of U.S. deaths attributed to the virus during the week ending March 28 is above the agency's "epidemic threshold" of 7.2 percent.
Nationally, roughly 400,000 have been hospitalized as a result of the illness. However, the percentage of visits to healthcare providers for "influenza-like illness" dropped during the most recent analysis period, from 6.3 percent to 5.4 percent.
Similarly, the percentage of laboratory-confirmed samples testing positive for strains of influenza declined sharply over the same period, from 7.3 percent to 2.1 percent. More than 50 percent of the samples testing positive so far this winter have been for influenza A.
"High" flu activity in the week ending March 28 was reported in New York City, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., and 28 states -- Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.