PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Some doctors say precautions taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus might have also eased Arizona's flu season.

"The lockdown and the principles of the lockdown, as well as the guidelines for physical distancing, apply to any viral infection," said Dr. Shad Marvasti, director of Public Health, Prevention and Health Promotion at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix.

As Arizona closed down schools and non-essential businesses stopped operating throughout the month of March, data from the Arizona Department of Health shows the number of influenza cases steeply dropping off. In the first week of March, there were 707 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in Arizona. By the last full week of March, there were only 136 laboratory-confirmed cases. However, this is also the time of year when flu cases historically begin to go down.

"You know about halfway or more through the season we didn't even really know that coronavirus was a factor," Dr. Marvasti said.

Still, Dr. Marvasti says closing down the state likely did make an impact, as well as pushes for increased hand-washing, mask-wearing, and social-distancing.

"Taking those measures and doing the lockdown, we helped to limit the spread of not only coronavirus but also flu and other cold viruses," Dr. Marvasti

Other doctors agree that COVID-19 prevention measures might have affected the flu.

"It likely did have an impact to help us see that rapid tail-off during the flu season," said Dr. Michael White, chief medical officer at Valleywise Health.

And there are hopes that the habits developed over the past few months continue.

"Things that we are doing today to help decrease the spread of COVID-19 disease are going to help us when the flu season comes around," Dr. White said.

 

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