Rhode Island, Massachusetts see increasing flu activity as masking and social distancing becomes thing of past

All states except six are reporting "very high" or "high" flu like illness levels.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Both Rhode Island and Massachusetts are now in the “high” level category for flu activity, according to the CDC’s latest data.

At this time last year, nearly all states were reporting low or moderate levels.

Two top Rhode Island medical experts, Dr. Laura Forman with Kent Hospital and Dr. Leonard Mermel with Lifespan, both say the rise in cases can be linked to the social distancing and masking we’ve been doing the past few years because of COVID.

While we were doing that it weakened our immune system for things like the flu.

“What’s different now than last year is that last year everyone was masking up in school, masking up at work… now there’s more large social gathering. People don’t have as much immunity as they have had in the past,” Dr. Mermel said.

Dr. Forman said she is seeing people of all ages with flu activity.

“It feels like it’s more flu than COVID in the emergency department — although we’re seeing some COVID as well. But hospitalizations at an increasing rate,” Forman said.

Forman added that when looking at your symptoms, keep in mind the flu is usually more concentrated to body aches and fever, and to stay home to avoid spreading anything.

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