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Federal flu surveillance team, more resources needed in New York, Schumer says

The senator said city and health officials need more resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fight the epidemic

New York is in the midst of a

New York is in the midst of a flu epidemic, with more than 7,100 people hospitalized statewide, according to the state Health Department. Photo Credit: David Handschuh

With flu season in full force, Sen. Chuck Schumer called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to dispatch a special surveillance team to New York.

The number of New Yorkers hospitalized for the flu has topped 7,100 statewide as of Jan. 20, according to the most recent figures released by the state Health Department.

That far exceeds the 4,369 hospitalized at the same time last year, according to a Jan. 21, 2017, report.

“A New York specific flu surveillance team would help take the state’s temperature on the epidemic and help break its fever,” Schumer said in a statement released Sunday. “With record-setting highs this season, it’s absolutely critical that New York have the resources it needs to track the flu’s path, gather intelligence and combat this powerful virus.”

In a letter to CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Schumer said city and state health officials could use more federal resources to battle this season’s epidemic.

“It is imperative that we commit all and every available resource to combat and mitigate the widespread effect of the flu on New Yorkers this season,” he wrote.

Schumer also expressed concern about a shortage of IV saline solutions and bags because the medical supply company that manufactures them in Puerto Rico was impacted by Hurricane Maria.

Health officials are urging New Yorkers who have not yet received a flu shot to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

The flu can be especially dangerous for children, the elderly and people with existing health conditions such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes.

The CDC said 37 children across the country have died from the flu so far this season.

And according to the state Health Department, anywhere from 12,000 to 56,000 deaths a year are caused by the flu nationwide, with 90 percent of those in people older than 65.

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