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Worries Of A 'Twindemic' As Flu Season Coincides With The COVID-19 Pandemic

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's being called a "twindemic"

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey found out hospitals are preparing for a surge in flu cases alongside rising COVID-19 rates. Experts worry this flu season could be worse than last year's.

That's because last year, we were under more of a "lockdown." Fewer people were out and about and there were stricter COVID precautions. This year, the landscape looks a bit different.

A year and a half into the pandemic and COVID fatigue is at an all-time high. While the Chicagoland area managed to avoid a high number of flu cases last year, some Chicago hospitals reported a grand total of zero cases for the 2020-2021 flu season.

Dr. John Segreti is Rush University Medical Center's Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention. He said they're preparing for influenza to rear its ugly head again this fall.

"Making sure that we have enough vaccine, enough medications and we have a mandatory flu vaccine policy that we've had for over 10 years," Segreti said.

He said every year, 99% of Rush's employees are vaccinated for influenza and getting both the flu vaccine and the COVID vaccine is crucial in the uphill battle against both viruses this this fall.

How can you tell if you have COVID or the flu?

Dr. Segreti said loss of taste and smell is often associated with COVID, but they've also seen that symptom with flu patients. And...

"We've had plenty of people with COVID who just had stuffy noses or running noses. I don't know how you can tell the difference just based on symptoms," Segreti said. "That is why we do testing."

Dr. Segreti said if you're not that sick, really the best bet is to stay home and avoid contact with other people whether you're concerned that it's COVID or the flu.

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