As Covid-19 cases climb across the U.S., President Biden and his administration are preparing Americans to accept the virus as a part of daily life, in a break from a year ago when he took office with a pledge to rein in the pandemic and months later said the nation was “closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus.”
While the word is relatively new and rising in popularity, cases of flu and coronavirus co-infections are not. And flurona is not a distinct disease but refers to when a person has been infected with both viruses. Flurona instances have been detected in countries including the United States, Israel, Brazil, the Philippines and Hungary, some even before the term was coined.
Are cases of fluorine new?
After two young pregnant women tested positive for both the coronavirus and influenza in Israel, many local and global media outlets dubbed it “flurona” in headlines. The Sun, a British tabloid, swiftly branded the co-infection “double trouble.”
Where has flurona been reported?
There have been other recent occurrences in the United States. A Houston teenager spent Christmas Day isolating in his bedroom after contracting the coronavirus and the flu at the same time. Alec Zierlein, who had been vaccinated against the coronavirus but not the flu, was also tested for strep throat, but results confirmed he had only the former two infections, which he described as being “like a mild cold.” After his diagnosis, Zierlein told ABC News that he was not aware the coronavirus and the flu could stack “up on one another” and that he would, in the future, get a flu shot as a precaution.
The recalibration of Mr. Biden’s message comes as the country braces for another round of disruptions wrought by the pandemic. A growing number of schools temporarily have returned to virtual instruction and many businesses are strained by staffing shortages, in both cases due to infections triggered by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Nearly 1,700 U.S. flights were canceled Wednesday, the 11th straight day of more than 1,000 cancellations, and many states warned that ongoing testing shortages will make it harder to return people to work and school.
Mr. Biden and his top aides have sought to cut through the disorder, even as the surge in cases has left many Americans confused by evolving state and local requirements for masks and for schools. White House officials have dismissed the need for lockdowns and urged schools to remain open.
The administration has sought to convey in appearances by the president and briefings with top officials that many Americans will be infected with Covid-19, but that those who are vaccinated have no reason to panic. “You can control how big an impact Omicron is going to have on your health,” Mr. Biden said. “We’re seeing Covid-19 cases among [the] vaccinated in workplaces across America, including here at the White House. But if you’re vaccinated and boosted, you are highly protected.”
Children in more than one hospital in South Florida have tested positive for both infections, ABC reported Wednesday. Dr. Juan Dumois, a pediatric infectious diseases physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital said that the presence of multiple diseases in young people is something he has seen before. “In rare occasions, I’ve seen five different viruses detected in the same child. Usually, a kid who was in daycare,” he said, urging parents to vaccinate their children.
A health official in the Philippines has also said that such co-infections are not unusual. Edsel Salvana, a member of a technical advisory group to the national health department, said the country’s first covid-related death stemmed from a joint case in early 2020.Salvana told reporters that the early pandemic patient, a Chinese national, had covid-19 and influenza B, as well as streptococcus pneumonia, according to local outlet ABS-CBN.
Some of the administration’s efforts, such as new isolation guidelines for people who test positive, have led to fresh uncertainty, and a recent poll found that 55% of Americans disapprove of Mr. Biden’s handling of the pandemic.
Vish Viswanath, a professor of health communication at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said the Biden administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention need to give more context to the public when issuing recommendations. He said many Covid-19 recommendations and guidelines have been confusing to people because the administration hasn’t sufficiently explained its reasoning up front.
“You have to give credit to the American public,” he said. “They can appreciate that science and evidence is changing.”
The seven-day average of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. rose to roughly 491,700 cases a day, an increase of about 98% from the previous week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday.
The White House has also taken heat for shortages in rapid tests as case counts rise. Mr. Biden and his aides have pointed to steps the administration is taking to increase the availability of rapid, at-home tests, and defended their approach to updating pandemic-era guidelines.
“We are not driving our decision making on how we’re addressing the pandemic through messaging, or through political concerns,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “We’re driving it by what the CDC and the medical doctors and the experts there convey.”
For much of his first year in office, Mr. Biden put the federal government at the center of pandemic response—from increasing vaccinations to scaling testing capacity. He publicly battled with Republican governors who defied mask mandates and other pandemic restrictions, and defended teachers unions as many K-12 schools remained closed in the first half of last year.