Registered nurse Wendy Gonzalez prepares a flu shot at Huntington...

Registered nurse Wendy Gonzalez prepares a flu shot at Huntington Village Pediatrics, in 2021. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

The number of flu cases on Long Island and statewide rose significantly in early November, although numbers are well below last season, data released Friday shows.

Seven states, mostly in the South, and Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., now have "very high" or "high" levels of flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though New York State's flu activity remains "minimal" and New York City's is "moderate."

“There’s clearly an uptick in the last couple of weeks with outpatients that are being diagnosed with influenza,” said Dr. Susan Donelan, medical director of health care epidemiology at Stony Brook Medicine, adding that gatherings for Thanksgiving and other holidays may lead to further spreading of the virus.

There was a 62% increase in flu cases statewide the week ending Nov. 11, compared with the previous week, state Department of Health data shows.

The number of Nassau cases rose 62%, from 143 to 231, and the number of Suffolk cases increased 72%, from 99 to 170 cases. There were 21 flu-related hospitalizations on Long Island for the week ending Nov. 11.

The 124 flu hospitalizations statewide is a fraction compared with a year ago, when there were 686 for the week ending Nov. 12, 2022. The number of lab-confirmed cases also is far lower: 2,007, compared with 11,687 a year ago.

Last year was an unusually early flu season, with cases peaking on Dec. 10, when there were nearly 53,000 lab-confirmed cases.

“This is more typical,” said Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of public health and epidemiology for Northwell Health. “It’s a significant increase, but I think we have a long way to go before we peak. It’s still not a widespread disease.”

For the past four decades, the flu has most often peaked in February, although more than half the time it peaked during other months, usually December, January or March, according to CDC data.

Donelan said it’s difficult to make predictions about this year.

“They’re all incredibly different,” she said of each flu season. “To make bets and projections is self-defeating.”

Most cases at Stony Brook are pediatric cases, Donelan said. That’s in part because children tend to be in closer contact with each other than adults are, but it’s also because parents are more likely to get their children tested for the flu than themselves, she said.

Official numbers only are for lab-confirmed cases; many people with the flu are not tested.

Nationwide, the CDC estimates there have been 780,000 to 1.6 million flu cases from Oct. 1 to Nov. 11, 490 to 1,500 deaths and 8,000 to 17,000 hospitalizations.

Adults 65 and older and those with certain chronic health conditions are at most risk for severe flu, as are pregnant women and children younger than 2.

Man gets 25 years to life in shooting … Congestion pricing almost set … Leo Giblyn school in Freeport Credit: Newsday

Updated now Bellport mini bus crash ... Mitch McConnell stepping down ... NYPD detective charged in DWI crash ... Suffolk conflict of interest

Man gets 25 years to life in shooting … Congestion pricing almost set … Leo Giblyn school in Freeport Credit: Newsday

Updated now Bellport mini bus crash ... Mitch McConnell stepping down ... NYPD detective charged in DWI crash ... Suffolk conflict of interest

Latest videos

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months
ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME