Even as the potentially deadly coronavirus rages worldwide, a staggering number of hospitalizations and deaths reported during flu season has come to the forefront in the U.S.

Although international news channels report the coronavirus as a growing threat, the numbers do not outweigh the crucial influenza wave which Americans are still battling as winter winds down. As of Feb. 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 26 million influenza cases in the United States this flu season, with 14,000 deaths.

Newer flu strains have dominated lately, reportedly infecting children and elderly patients in much higher numbers than others.

Meanwhile, two chartered jets transporting Americans from a quarantined cruise ship in Japan landed Monday at two U.S. military bases. The passengers had been held abroad for nearly two weeks due to outbreaks of the virus aboard the ship.

All passengers now begin a two-day quarantine process, evaluating the infected, and administering medical examinations to ensure others are still healthy prior to their release.

The CDC reports more 70,000 cases of COVID-19, the coronavirus disease that first appeared late last year in Wuhan, China. The disease has caused 1,873 deaths internationally, mostly in mainland China. Additionally, there are now 15 confirmed cases in the U.S.

COVID-19 is caused by a member of the coronavirus family closely related to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused past outbreaks.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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