Barely able to walk because of her experience with COVID-19, holding an iPhone and sitting in an armchair is about the best Crystal Gutierrez can manage these days.
Even walking is hard for this mother from La Marque, Texas.
“Sometimes it’s just hard to get on my own two feet,” she said.
Having just gotten out of the hospital recently, Gutierrez thought she was done with COVID. But last week, her mother, step-father and nephew all started testing positive for both coronavirus and the flu at the same time.
“My mind goes to worst-case scenarios. I’ve cried off and on. What if they’re not OK?” she said.
The Gutierrez family is part of a small but growing number of cases doctors are referring to as having “flurona.” Officials say it is possible to test positive for both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.
Because so many Americans were staying home last winter, flu numbers stayed relatively low. But now, they are on the rise, creating what health officials are calling a “twindemic," the intersection of two pandemics at once.
Kristen Nichols, a pharmacist with Wolters Kluwer, has been watching the numbers closely.
“With influenza and COVID, it’s very difficult to tell them apart from a symptomatic perspective,” Nichols said.
Nichols' biggest recommendation to Americans is to get vaccinated for both the flu and COVID-19. For those with underlying health conditions though, doctors will likely try to treat the flu first since medicines like Tamiflu have proven success records.
“We still don’t have great data to tell us if people are at higher risk for hospitalization or death, but it stands to reason they could be,” she said.