FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – As we head into the thick of flu season health professionals are becoming even more concerned about hospitals hitting their capacities.

State Epidemiologist for the Arkansas Department of Health, Dr. Dillaha warns that Arkansas is already seeing record numbers of covid hospitalizations.

Dillaha says, “we can just not afford to have more and more people in the hospital, we will just be able to provide the level of care that everyone needs.”

Chief Medical Officer at the Community Clinic in Fayetteville, Dr. Gary Berner agrees that if we don’t continue to follow guidelines the flu could be the straw that breaks the camels back.

Dr. Gary Berner tells me, “if we were to have a large significant and overwhelming amount of flu patients this could be really hard on our ICUs and hospitals.” 

While both health professionals agree that we need to be cognisant of the seasonal flu – the numbers of reported cases are down almost 80 percent from this time last year. 

Berner explains, “numbers they are down in terms of positive cases of the flu I think this is pretty significant because we do have a lot of sick people coming in and they are coming in and we are testing for it.”

This is something we can thank social distancing for, but to protect yourself and the healthcare system Dillaha says, “they need to get a flu shot now.”

This is because it is possible to get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Something that would not be good.  

Berner says, “I have a significant concern for co-infections,”… “For individuals that get flu and COVID, they could be really sick.” 

Berner and Dillaha tell me that the symptoms for COVID-19 and the common flu are often interchangeable so both need to treated with the same sense of urgency.

Also that if you believe you have one or the other do not wait to seek help, the quicker you catch it, the better your odds are of not taking up a hospital bed.