Maury Regional Health sees marked increase in COVID and flu activity, urges caution


COLUMBIA, Tenn. — As influenza and COVID activity rises sharply across Tennessee – including in the areas served by Maury Regional Health – the health system is encouraging the community to be especially vigilant.

“Influenza and COVID are both extremely contagious respiratory illnesses that can cause serious illness and death in susceptible individuals. It is vital to take precautions against becoming infected or unknowingly exposing others and to seek testing and treatment as soon as possible if you are developing symptoms of a respiratory infection,” said MRH Interim CEO and Chief Medical Officer Martin Chaney, MD.

Symptoms of COVID and flu are quite similar, including fever, chills, cough, body aches, headache, sore throat and congestion or runny nose. COVID symptoms can include shortness of breath and a loss of taste or smell. Each virus can result in illness ranging from mild to severe. Co-infection with COVID and flu can result in severe disease and hospitalization with both viruses severely impacting the respiratory system, which can lead to pneumonia, sepsis and, potentially, organ failure.


In the United States, COVID cases are up approximately 75,000 per day over the past week and the total new cases for the week ending January 2 was more than 2.9 million. The number of COVID hospitalizations in Tennessee increased by 88% from December 25 to January 4. Approximately one-fourth of patients are being treated in an ICU setting. Pediatric hospitalizations in Tennessee have increased by 256% since December 25.

As of January 4, the Tennessee Department of Health reported 2,060 active cases of COVID-19 in Maury, Giles, Lawrence, Lewis, Marshall and Wayne counties combined. As of January 5, Maury Regional Health was treating 41 patients with COVID, including 10 patients in critical care.

Since first being detected in November, the omicron variant has become the most common form of COVID in the U.S. Omicron and the previously detected delta variant both spread more easily than the original virus.

It can take two to 14 days for COVID symptoms to begin after exposure. While some individuals may experience traditional flu-like symptoms, other individuals who have the virus may not experience any obvious signs of infection. A person with COVID can infect others two days before symptoms occur or they test positive and many patients can be asymptomatic, unknowingly transmitting the virus to others.

Influenza (Flu)

Flu can occur at any time of year, but is most common in the fall and winter months. According to the CDC, flu activity is currently considered high across Tennessee and much of the southeastern United States.

So far this season, 588 cases of flu have been diagnosed by Maury Regional Health facilities, with Type A representing 97% of those cases, based on testing in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

A person with flu can infect others one day before symptoms begin and can remain contagious five to seven days after becoming sick.

Protecting yourself and others

“As our communities see increased activity of both COVID and flu, we urge members of the public to renew their focus on social distancing, hand hygiene and masking when social distancing is not possible in order to help control the spread of respiratory illnesses,” said Dr. Chaney.

Vaccines to protect against severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID and flu are widely available, including from Maury Regional Health, retail pharmacies and health departments. Information about vaccine availability is outlined here.

If you experience symptoms of either illness, it is important to seek testing to determine which virus is causing illness so that appropriate treatment and quarantine strategies can begin as soon as possible. Medications are available to treat both viruses but are most effective when given in the early stage of infection.

Because both COVID and flu can be spread before symptoms are evident, it is increasingly important to protect others, particularly hospitalized patients. Effective January 4, Maury Regional Health has restricted visitation to one visitor per day, with limited exceptions. All visitors will be screened and must wear a mask at all times while in a Maury Regional Health facility.

“Any person who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID or flu should not visit a patient,” said Chaney. “It is imperative that we protect our patients and care team.”

Learn more about COVID, flu and current visitation guidelines.

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