OLYMPIA — At least 21 people in Washington state have died of the flu so far this season, including two children who died, the state Department of Health reports.

The latest update from health officials says flu activity in the state is elevated, with more than 1,800 patients reporting flu-like systems during the last week of December alone — the most recent period for which statewide data is available.

Nineteen deaths were confirmed across the state between September and December 2019, the first few months of the flu season. Two more have been confirmed in Snohomish County in the first week of January: a man in his 80s and a woman in her 30s.

Flu is affecting more people than usual, in Washington and around the country

Ten outbreaks of flu-like sickness also were reported at long-term-care facilities in the state in the 2019-2020 season, as of Dec. 28.

Of the people who have died so far this season, one was younger than 5 years old and another was between the ages of 5 and 17, state health officials report. Two adults between the ages of 30 and 49 have died, and the remaining 17 were people 50 or older.

King County child dies of flu, the county’s first known pediatric death from the virus in a decade

The greatest concentration of flu deaths has been in Pierce County, where five deaths have been reported. The other deaths are spread among 12 other counties, including King, Kitsap, Snohomish, Thurston and Whatcom counties in Western Washington.

By this time in the previous flu season — the end of December 2018 — nine people in Washington state had died of flu. In the entire 2018-2019 flu season, 245 flu deaths were confirmed in the state.

Health officials urge everyone to get vaccinated against the flu, cover coughs and sneezes, and stay home when ill.

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