Expecting a respite from flu-like symptoms and respiratory illness as warm weather approaches? Don’t let your guard down just yet, Kansas City-based Sickweather said Thursday, issuing a “troubling” forecast for cities across the U.S.
“Sickweather’s prediction for a prolonged season of flu-like illness is historic because it represents a stark contrast to the notion that flu-like symptoms will decrease near the end of March and remain low for five to six months before the start of the next influenza season,” the company said in a press release. “It is too early to predict here in the U.S., but coronavirus may play a large part in the ongoing respiratory illnesses in the spring and summer.”
Sickweather is a consumer-facing, real-time map of sickness. The company sees increased public awareness each flu season, though a worldwide coronavirus outbreak has even more eyeballs on the app this winter, the company acknowledged.
The startup’s alert Thursday is based on the predictive modeling of its SickScore risk index, which tracks illness using its patented method for social listening for disease surveillance and assesses patterns of flu-like symptomatology in cities across the country.
“We’re proud that Sickweather has a proven track record of accurately forecasting outbreaks like these unrelenting flu-like symptoms up to 15 weeks in advance,” said Laurel Edelman, CEO of Sickweather. “We live in an era when it has never been more critical for consumers to be informed about what’s happening in their communities to protect themselves and their families.”
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Based on its SickScore risk index, Sickweather on Thursday also released a list of the 10 “sickest” U.S. cities:
- 1 — Salt Lake City
- 2 — Austin, Texas
- 3 — Portland, Oregon
- 4 — Philadelphia
- 5 — Denver
- 6 — Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- 7 — Pittsburgh and Detroit (tie)
- 8 — Honolulu
- 9 — Charlotte, North Carolina, and San Diego (tie)
- 10 — Nashville, Tennessee
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates at least 26 million flu illnesses already during the 2019-2020 flu season. Those illnesses have resulted in a quarter-million hospitalizations in the U.S. and 14,000 deaths, including more than a 100 children, according to Sickweather.
CDC experts recommend being diligent about regular handwashing; covering coughs and sneezes; avoiding unnecessary touching of the eyes, nose, and mouth; frequently disinfecting surfaces; getting enough sleep; eating nutritious foods; and effectively managing stress.