New York State Department of Health Warns That Influenza Rates Are Rising Across the State

DOH Issues Advisory to NYS Public and Private Schools

Positive Cases Up 25 Percent From Previous Week

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 18, 2022) - The New York State Department of Health today alerted New Yorkers that seasonal flu rates are rising statewide and recommended that the public take the same precautions as they follow with COVID-19 – stay home if you have any symptoms, consult your physician, get tested and get treatment, and wear a mask in indoor public spaces if living in high-risk counties or personally at-risk. DOH issued an advisory Wednesday to New York State public and private schools to remind administrators to contact their local health department if they observe increases in school absences resulting from influenza-like illness (fever with cough or sore throat) or confirmed influenza outbreaks.

The week ending May 7 saw statewide positive flu rates increase by 25 percent from the previous week, the most recent data available. This is the 25th consecutive week geographically widespread influenza has been reported.

"It is easy to become complacent about the flu when our minds are on the latest COVID-19 wave and with the weather turning warmer," State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. "But we know that Influenza rates are climbing alongside Covid-19 cases, so we must be vigilant these next few weeks and take precautions to keep healthy. Wear a mask in indoor public spaces if living in high-risk counties or personally at-risk, and stay home if you feel ill."

Laboratories in New York State tested 59,653 specimens for influenza, of which 8,855 (15 percent) were positive, a 25-percent increase from last week. Of the 5,226 specimens submitted to WHO/NREVSS clinical laboratories, 415 (or 7.94 percent) were positive for influenza A.

While influenza viruses can cause severe illness in people of all ages, influenza A viruses are known to cause disproportionately more illness among young children and older adults. The number of patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza was 453, a 20-percent decrease from the previous week's data. There were no influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported this week as well for this season.

The following preventive measures should be encouraged to stop the spread of influenza within schools:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects.

The flu vaccine can still be given for this season, and people who are 65 years or older or who have chronic health conditions should talk to their physician about getting a flu shot. To find a vaccine location near you, visit

Influenza, often referred to as 'flu', is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Seasonal flu epidemics occur yearly during the colder months. Although the yearly impact of influenza varies, it affects the health of New Yorkers each season. Most people who get sick with flu will have mild illness and will recover in less than two weeks without medical care. Some people, such as older adults, young children, pregnant women, nursing home residents, and people with asthma, lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, or obesity, are more likely to develop flu-related complications. Getting an annual flu shot, staying home while sick, washing your hands often, and other good health habits help prevent the spread of influenza.

DOH conducts influenza surveillance each October through May and may extend surveillance beyond May if needed. Data can be downloaded at Health Data NY.

See Influenza Activity, Surveillance and Reports for access to the full weekly report.

For more information about influenza, visit