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Health care providers see uptick in flu tests

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Right now, health care providers are seeing an uptick in people coming in to get tested for Covid-19 and the flu.

WAAY 31 spoke with doctors about why we may be seeing this increase.

They said last year, North Alabama had virtually no influenza-like cases because people were wearing masks and staying away from each other by social distancing. But, due to many letting their guard down, the viruses are coming back.

"Things have changed, actually, over time," said Dr. Ali Hassoun infectious disease specialist at Huntsville Hospital. "Now, it's going to be really hard to tell to differentiate it from the flu and other viral illnesses."

At one point, Covid-19 symptoms started out as a loss of taste and smell, but it has since developed into runny nose and a cough, which are similar symptoms to other illnesses. This is one of the reasons, Hassoun said, we're seeing more people being tested for all viruses and not just Covid.

Happi Health officials said we can prevent this by going back to what we were doing just a year ago.

"Washing your hands, wearing a face mask — especially if you're sick," said Angelique Andrews. "If you have to go out and you're sick and you have symptoms, you really should be wearing a face mask, because you don't know if you have Covid, you don't know if you have flu, and it does protect against both."

As North Alabama starts to see more cases of the flu pop up, Andrews and Hassoun each advise being vigilant. Andrews said you can get your Covid and flu vaccinations at the same time, and she recommended doing it ahead of the holidays.

"A lot of people have decided, 'Oh, I'm going to get my Covid vaccine or my flu vaccine,' and they haven't gotten both," Andrews said. "So, I want to encourage you to go ahead and get both because that is prevention."

"It's being reasonable in the way of using your prevention, keep up the distance and make sure you're vaccinated," said Hassoun.

Hassoun and Andrews also encouraged people to get their Covid-19 booster shots if they haven't already.

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