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Winnebago Co. doctors say mask-wearing, social distancing is decreasing the spread of the flu

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WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WREX) — Doctors in Winnebago County say they are not seeing as many cases of the flu this year because of mask-wearing, social distancing and hand washing.

According to the Winnebago County Health Department's website, so far only six cases of influenza have been reported. At this time last year, 37 cases were reported.

"I think that people are being responsible and are caring about themselves and others by taking those other precautions and measures because this is real," said OSF Family Physician Dr. Martine Schultheis.

"A lot of it has to do with masks, hand washing and social distancing. You know you don't see as many colds, strep throat pneumonia, bronchitis," said SwedishAmerican Pediatrician Dr. William Renk.

Doctors say an increase in people getting the flu shot is also helping.

"Because they understand that having COVID-19 and the flu is a recipe for disaster. So I have seen a lot more people wanting to take their Flu shot versus last year," said Dr. Schultheis.

It is important to note that cases are usually low this time of year, with the peak of cases in in January and February.

But doctors say a low number of cases now could mean either mean a later peak season or fewer cases over all.

"My feeling is that it will be overall less because of what we are trying to do to prevent COVID, but I still think we are going to see a spike," said Dr. Renk.

Doctors are still encouraging people to get the flu shot this year if they already haven't.