With the heightened concerns of the novel coronavirus 2019, health experts are still reminding the public that influenza continues to be prevalent.

Greene County Medical Center Infection Prevention Nurse Heather Kinsey says the flu remains widespread and elevated in Iowa. She points out symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are very similar and so if someone is experiencing symptoms of a fever, shortness of breath, and a persistent cough, they screen for both viruses. 

“We do normally test them for the flu before we test them for the COVID-19. So we do rule out the flu first before we test them for the COVID-19. So for a lot of these people we may test them for the flu but not feel that they do need to be tested for the COVID-19.”

Greene County Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Line says they are focused on testing for the flu because there are treatment options available.

“We are more interested in testing for the flu than we are for COVID(-19) because we can help, we have medicines that can help limit the spread from the person who has it to other people and we can protect the community.”

Kinsey notes flu shots are still available and urges healthy habits, including continuously washing hands with soap in warm water, covering coughs and staying home if sick.