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The Differences in Flu and COVID-19 Pandemic in North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced the latest positive COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases and related deaths yesterday afternoon. Some have asked what the difference is in the flu and the coronavirus pandemic. 

One difference is found in the numbers. According to the NCDHHS, since the outbreak started, the state now has 19,700 positive COVID-19 cases, with 585 hospitalizations, and 691 coronavirus deaths. 

The flu season started in September 2019. The typical flu season ends on March 31, however, the NCDHHS extended the reporting period for this flu season to the week ending on May 16, 2020. The official report shows there have been 186 deaths in North Carolina.  

The Center for Disease Control made an infographic to show the difference between the regular flu and pandemic flu. The graph does not show the difference between the regular flu and the COVID-19 Pandemic, but does give some educational points similar to the differences in the regular flu season and the current Pandemic. 

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness new coronavirus that emerged in late 2019. According to officials, some people who get COVID-19 have a mild illness, or no symptoms at all. However, others can become severely ill. According to reports, those with preexisting health conditions and the elderly are more at risk for severe symptoms related to the illness. 

Although COVID-19 shares many similarities with seasonal flu, there are also several differences between the two. According to the John Hopkins Medicine website, both cause fever, cough, body aches, and fatigue, sometimes vomiting, and diarrhea. Both can be mild to severe, and even fatal, and can result in pneumonia.  

Both can be spread from person to person through droplets in the air from an infected person coughing, sneezing or talking. A possible difference: COVID-19 might be spread through the airborne route (see details below under Differences), according to John Hopkins. Also, both can be spread by an infected person for several days before their symptoms appear.

Neither virus is treatable with antibiotics, which only work on bacterial infections, according to the John Hopkins Medicine website. Both are treated by addressing symptoms, such as reducing fever. Severe cases may require hospitalization and support, such as mechanical ventilation.

“Both may be prevented by frequent, thorough hand washing, coughing into the crook of your elbow, staying home when sick and limiting contact with people who are infected. Social and physical distancing can limit the spread of COVID-19 in communities,” the official site states.

The full list of symptoms of COVID-19 continues to evolve as more is learned about the illness.

*This publication is for informational purposes only. Seek professional medical assistance if needed. 

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