MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) reported 967 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, Jan. 7. It’s the second day in a row where cases are on the decline, but remain high in the county.
The health department also announced a new drive-through testing site in West Mobile at Coast Diagnostic. Whether people go to the Festival Centre, or the new site, they may need a second test.
Dr. Rendi Murphree with the Mobile County Health Department said, “Catching influenza and COVID at the same time is an unfortunate event, but it does and will continue to happen.”
Some people call the combination of the two illnesses “Flurona.”
It’s not a new variant or type of illness. It’s when someone contracts both coronavirus and the flu at the same time, and Mobile County Health Department officials said it’s already happened in the county.
“It has certainly happened you know in the US and in Alabama and in Mobile much more frequently than it’s been documented,” said Dr. Murphree.
Why is it not documented?
Dr. Murphree said there is a legal reason.
“I think part of the difficulty in detecting that is that influenza infection is A not reportable by law to public health and B there’s really not a good rapid test for influenza,” said Murphree. The state only reports flu related deaths. Unfortunately, information on influenza is not as readily available as it is for COVID-19, according to Murphree.
Making matters more complicated, Murprhee said COVID-19 tests are 95-97-percent accurate, but flu tests are not.
“There are rapid tests that are available in doctor’s offices and hospitals, but they have sometimes depending on what flu strains are circulating, they have maybe a 50-50 chance at getting it right,” said Murphree.
Also, flu tests are not free, so they’re not administered alongside COVID-19 tests. If residents wants a flu test, they can call Family Health, or have it done through a local pharmacy, according to Murphree.
One big concern, is the lack of knowledge about the long-term effects of having the combination sickness from influenza and COVID-19.
“I think what we still don’t know about that is what that synergy of infection, how that’s going to impact your health,” said Murphree.