BOZEMAN - Last year, there were zero confirmed flu cases in Gallatin County.
But this year?
“450 approximately so far," said Dr. Todd Harris from b2 UrgentCare. "People are sick.”
- RELATED: CDC warns of rising flu cases among young adults
- RELATED: Experts warn coming flu season likely to eclipse previous one
That's right — almost 450 Gallatin County residents have been tested and showed positive results for the flu.
“Unprecedented times for us," Harris said. "We have been very busy.”
There was a full parking lot at b2 Urgent Care Monday, but employees tell me it was many more people Sunday.
“We registered 330 patients through this facility which is far beyond what we’ve ever done before,” Harris said.
Last year's flu season saw zero cases, and the season before that was 220 cases. But there is a medical explanation for why this year is more than double pre-COVID-19 numbers.
“Initially, it’s like ‘oh my gosh’ we have much more influenza now, but the reality is we’re just testing a lot more people for respiratory illness just because of COVID," said Harris. "So, I would say it’s a normal flu season.”
Typically, flu cases have been seen as far as April so we’re not quite in the thick of it yet.
“The thick should be coming within the next few weeks actually," said Harris. "So, this is still considered early season. We usually see the spike February, early March.”
If you’re feeling sick, should you head to the hospital or an urgent care facility?
“I guess you have to assess how sick you are," Harris noted. "The issue with the emergency department is you have to realize there’s other people that need to be seen there: heart attack, strokes, car accidents, things like that, so if we can offload some of that stress and strain on the emergency department and use our retail care centers, it kind of helps everybody.”
Dr. Harris says you can get vaccinated for both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.