Officials are declaring this the worst flu season in nearly a decade, and hospitals have now resorted to expanding emergency rooms into surrounding halls and waiting rooms.
Since the flu season began in October, New York City alone has seen a full 33% increase in hospital visits because of the virus.
"The uptick has crowded emergency rooms across the state, forcing some hospitals to temporarily divert ambulances and hire more staff," reports the Times. "Officials are urging New Yorkers to get vaccinated and some have called on the federal government to ratchet up its efforts in New York."
Brad Hutton, deputy commissioner of public health at the state Department of Health said the flu season is “possibly tracking to be more severe than the 2014-2015 season, which was characterized as moderately severe. We’re moving toward it being a severe flu season.”
Of the 34 million Americans who contracted the flu during the 2014-15 season, about 56,000 died, according to the CDC.
"There have been 8,954 laboratory-confirmed influenza reports in New York City this season, according to the state Department of Health," reports the Times. "That’s an 11.5 percent increase from this time last season. Central New York has seen the highest concentration of flu cases this year."
The people most at risk of dying from the flu are the elderly, young children and those with chronic conditions. Most who contract the virus typically recover without medical treatment.