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Flu, COVID-19 symptoms could be 'confusing' this fall, King County official says

Because influenza symptoms can resemble those of COVID-19 early on, King County's Dr. Jeff Duchin is pushing for everyone to get the flu vaccine this year.

SEATTLE — Though the severity of the flu season can't be predicted and a vaccine for influenza isn't perfect, Dr. Jeff Duchin with Public Health - Seattle & King County says the vaccine this year could play an especially important role.

The prospect of a severe or even average flu season compounded with the COVID-19 pandemic should be enough to grab anyone's attention, said Duchin in a Friday afternoon press conference.

Health experts have yet to know how influenza and COVID-19 will interact. Plus, it will be "tremendously confusing" to have people with influenza, which can resemble COVID-19 at the beginning of an illness, Duchin said. 

People who appear to be infected with COVID-19, but really have influenza, may still have to be tested and quarantined until COVID-19 can be ruled out.

On Friday, Duchin said the number of COVID-19 cases is still "too high for comfort." 

King County has seen more than 700 total deaths among more than 18,000 COVID-19 cases. There were more than 100 cases reported each day over the past week, according to Duchin. Most deaths remain associated with long-term care facilities. The median age of people being hospitalized is 62.

Duchin said that in the past two weeks, nearly 200 businesses have reported one or more people working while contagious. 

There have also been "many cases" reported in conjunction with social gatherings, most commonly with people in their teens and 20s. 

There were 15 new coronavirus deaths reported as of Aug. 20 in Washington state among 700 new cases, according to the Washington State Department of Health. A total of 1,837 deaths were reported among 69,389 overall cases in Washington state.