MINNEAPOLIS — It's hard to ignore the headlines and images coming out of China, with the death toll from the Wuhan coronavirus rising and U.S. officials preparing to evacuate Americans from the epicenter of the outbreak.
But before you worry too much about coronavirus, consider this: There have been 106 deaths attributed to coronavirus, most in China and none in the United States.
But another virus is responsible for killing thousands of Americans every year, and yet the attention it gets pales in comparison to that of the coronavirus.
The CDC estimates at least 8,200 people in the U.S. have died this season from the flu, 54 of them have been children.
And the Minnesota Department of Health says 31 people have died from the flu this season in our state, including one child.
Coronavirus? Not a single confirmed case here.
So why aren't people more concerned about the flu?
"I think it gets so much attention that sometimes people have stopped listening, to be honest," said Dr. Stacene Maroushek, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Hennepin Healthcare. "I just don't think people appreciate the number of influenza deaths, and the number of influenza cases that we have in the hospital, because they've perhaps been hearing it so often. But we should be taking it as seriously, because that's what's here now in our community. [The flu] is much more likely to end you up in a hospital or to kill you right now than the Wuhan coronavirus."
While there is no medication or vaccine for the coronavirus, and there are many unknowns yet about how it acts, the CDC says the risk to the general population in the U.S. is still low.