Liz Burke, WPRO News
Boston has declared a public health emergency due to the growing number of flu related deaths in Massachusetts. Now Rhode Islanders may be wondering what’s going on with the flu outbreak in our state.
“No, we’re not looking at an emergency. We think that we are doing a great job in collaboration with hospitals and doctors managing this outbreak,” says Rhode Island Department of Health Director Michael Fine.
Even though Rhode Island is not looking at an emergency situation, Dr. Fine tells listeners on the John DePetro show that the flu is still widespread.
“In a typical year, Rhode Island sees between 50 and 200 deaths from influenza and pneumonia together. My guess is, this year that number is going to be higher.”
Neighboring state Massachusetts is reporting they have had 18 flu related deaths so far this season. Dr. Fine says Rhode Isand has also seen some flu related deaths.
“The good news is we have no pediatric deaths. We know of a couple of deaths anecdotally but the way we report this is, they are reported as deaths from influenza and pneumonia together and those don’t really get reported until the end of the year.”
Dr. Fine says the Rhode Island Department of Health is prepared for the widespread flu outbreak.
“We’ve been on the phone with everyone. We’re on the phone with conference calls, we’re sending out messages, we’re paying very close attention to supplies of vaccines, supplies of medicine, even supplies of flu testing kits. We’re all working together well and I think we’re doing a great job staying on top of the illness that’s there,” says Dr. Fine.