‘Twin-demic’ avoided after weak flu season

Staff at Bayonne Medical Center were relieved when flu cases didn't surge

Bayonne Medical Center was one of many hospitals across the country braced for a “twin-demic” this winter. Thankfully, the worst was avoided.

In an interview with the Bayonne Community News, Chief Hospital Executive Dr. Vijay Singh elaborated.

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Preparing for the worst

Prior to the winter, Singh said the hospital was preparing for a “twin-demic,” or a simultaneous surge in both flu cases and COVID-19 cases.

The hospital was equipped with a new rapid testing system. The BioFire tests take only a half an hour to an hour for results, and test for both the flu and COVID-19. In October, Singh said this was at the center of the hospital’s efforts to prevent a “twin-demic.”

If patients have the flu, they can be discharged from the ER with an immediate prescription of Tamiflu and a follow-up appointment with their primary care physicians after five days. Singh said that frees up hospital beds and increases capacity for potential COVID-19 patients.

According to Singh, everyone at the hospital got their flu shots in order to prevent an outbreak.

‘Twin-demic’ avoided

Singh said the hospital did not experience a “twin-demic.”

He was relieved upon finding that Australia had a lukewarm flu season. He explained that the flu season in the United States usually follows the same cycle as Australia’s.

That’s exactly what happened this year in Bayonne, Singh said. He added that there has only been very few cases of the flu at the hospital in past months.

The reason? A majority of people are wearing masks. Therefore, the transmission of the flu didn’t occur as frequently. The flu usually affects the elderly more, and Singh said they are the group he’s seen wearing masks more often than anybody else.

It also helped that residents got their flu shots.

Post-holiday surges

An increase in COVID-19 cases has been correlated with holidays.
Singh said that the current uptick in Bayonne can be linked to gatherings on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve celebrations. Increases also occurred following the 4th of July and Halloween.

However, the surge following Christmas and New Year’s Eve is not as bad as was anticipated. As of Jan. 7, there were 20 COVID-19 patients at Bayonne Medical Center. That is down from a peak of nearly 30 virus patients in mid-December.

And with no holidays on the horizon, the hospital is poised to see a further decrease in the number of COVID-19 patients.

Vaccinations have been ongoing since Dec. 22, when Singh and other staff received the first doses of the Moderna vaccine. Following the end of the holiday season and start of vaccinations, the COVID-19 situation in Bayonne is showing signs of leveling out.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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