NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The World Health Organization said Thursday COVID-19 cases spiked by 71% in the latest weekly count.
According to doctors, it's exactly how it sounds: a COVID-19 and flu infection at the same time.
"It's no surprise we could have those cases because one, they're different. They can co-infect into one person," said Dr. Henry Chen, president of SOMOS Community Care.
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Chen noted it's peak flu season, but COVID has no true season. The infections have similar symptoms and concerns, especially among vulnerable populations.
"The virus can trickle down to the lung and cause pneumonia," said Chen. "That is the problem that can cause death. So we have to prevent that."
The best prevention for both is vaccination, he said.
In a statement to CBS2, the New York City Department of Health said:
Co-infection with influenza and COVID-19 is not a new phenomenon, and is not its own distinct disease. NYC has seen some cases of co-infection, and this is expected. We encourage everyone to get both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines to prevent this as much as possible. COVID-19 and flu are both respiratory illnesses and spread in similar ways. Precautions against both are similar, and familiar to New Yorkers: masking, improving ventilation, physical distancing, and staying home when you are sick.
Adding to the concerns, the city's hospitals are already dealing with a surge of COVID cases.
"Our biggest fear is a 'twindemic.' A 'twindemic' means that there will be a lot of COVID cases, a lot of flu cases and those overlap cases, too, are possible," said Dr. Purvi Parikh, an immunologist.
"About 75-80% of all hospital beds across New York City are occupied right now and that number, we do expect to increase," said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.
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In response, Mayor Eric Adams announced a commitment of nearly $145 million in resources to support safety net hospitals and increase staffing with Health + Hospitals and the Department of Health.
"Our nurses have been under a great deal of strain, our hospital administrators, doctors and staff. So we want to bring in a real support for them," Adams said.
If you're sick, health officials encourage you to ask your doctor to test for both flu and COVID.
Editor's note: This story was first published Jan. 6.
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