This story was originally published by Public News Service.
State health experts are warning the flu and COVID season could be severe, and are urging Kentuckians to stay on guard.
With COVID restrictions loosened or no longer in effect in many places, researchers said they are seeing evidence the flu will make a strong comeback.
Eric Friedlander, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said avoiding poorly ventilated spaces and crowds, washing hands often or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, mask-wearing, and staying home when you feel sick can all help prevent widespread illness this winter.
"Those things that helped mitigate COVID, helped bring down the transmission of COVID, the same things work for flu," Friedlander explained. "Keep up the good work, keep up those good habits. That's what we're asking folks to do."
Despite the rise of Delta and Omicron variants, around half of Kentucky adults now say "the pandemic is over in their personal lives," according to a poll by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.
According to the Yale School of Medicine, evidence suggests limited global supply of vaccines could trigger a spike in COVID-19 cases, resulting in new emerging variants.
Ashley Brauer, vice president of communications at the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, emphasized people should be having conversations with their physician or trusted health professional about what's best for their health.
"Talk to your doctor, get the individual recommendation for you and your family," Brauer urged. "But realize that it's still a threat, people are still getting sick, we're going to see waves of it."
Reid Yearwood, executive director of the Esperanza Latino Center of Northern Kentucky, said his organization is working to reach more people in Spanish-speaking communities about the importance of COVID and flu prevention.
"With that increase in diversity, with the increase of these immigrant and minority populations, you have a host of different needs and issues that are specific to each and every community," Yearwood pointed out.
According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Black, Hispanic and other populations of color have experienced higher rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths compared to white Americans.
Disclosure: The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Health Issues, and Smoking Prevention. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
- Vaccine information Foundation for a Healthy Ky. 09/22/2022
- Poll Foundation for a Healthy Ky. 08/09/2022
- Variants Yale Univ. 08/31/2022
- Virus data Kaiser Family Foundation 08/22/2022
- COVID-19 Dashboard Ky. Dept. for Public Health 2022
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