Flu season is approaching, and with COVID-19 cases likely to increase this winter as more people are stuck indoors, medical experts are urging people to do everything they can to protect themselves against both viruses.

It's more important than ever to get a flu shot this year, said Dr. Christine Alexander, chair of family medicine at MetroHealth.

Not only do COVID-19 and influenza often present similar symptoms, but vulnerable populations – such as elderly and the immunocompromised – are at a high risk for both illnesses, she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says the coronavirus can be spread through airborne particles that can linger in the air "for minutes or even hours" — even among people who are more than 6 feet apart.

You might have hoped the coronavirus pandemic would cancel what we doctors usually think of as "sick season," but as cool weather signals the annual arrival of autumn allergies, colds and flu in the U.S., sick season is still right on schedule.

In my clinic, that means a flurry of visits and calls from patients worried about their runny noses, coughs and sore throats.

Before the emergence of COVID-19, it was already tough for patients to know how seriously to take those common symptoms. Allergies and colds are mostly just a nuisance, but a severe case of the flu can kill.

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 200,000 on Tuesday — reaching what was once the upper limit of some estimates for the pandemic's impact on Americans. Some experts now warn that the toll could nearly double again by the end of 2020.

"I hoped we would be in a better place by now," said Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. "It's an enormous and tragic loss of life."

The James Cancer Hospital at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
The Ohio State University

Ohio State University researchers will form a dedicated center to study the long-term effects of COVID-19, thanks to a $10 million federal grant. 

For many around Ohio, life is beginning to resemble what it was pre-pandemic, with some returning to places like the office or the classroom. As Ohioans venture out more for both work and play, the Cleveland Clinic is sharing a matrix to help people assess the risk of contracting the virus when participating in any one activity.

With the annual flu season about to start, it's still unclear exactly how influenza virus will interact with the coronavirus if a person has both viruses.

The upshot of climate change is that everyone alive is destined to experience unprecedented disasters. The most powerful hurricanes, the most intense wildfires, the most prolonged heat waves and the most frequent outbreaks of new diseases are all in our future. Records will be broken, again and again.

But the predicted destruction is still shocking when it unfolds at the same time.

At least 97,000 children tested positive for the coronavirus during the last two weeks of July, according to a new review of state-level data by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children's Hospital Association. The increase represents a 40% surge in the nation's cumulative total of child cases.

Updated at 6:13 p.m. ET

The United States crossed a grim milestone Wednesday, with more than 150,000 lives now lost as a result of the coronavirus.

The tragic number includes around 33,000 people who have died in New York, nearly 16,000 in New Jersey and more than 8,700 in California.

On January 30, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus — then unnamed — to be a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern." The virus, first reported in China in late 2019, had started to spread beyond its borders, causing 98 cases in 18 countries in addition to some

New federal data reinforces the stark racial disparities that have appeared with COVID-19: According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Black Americans enrolled in Medicare were hospitalized with the disease at rates nearly four times higher than their white counterparts.

prescription medicine pills spilling out of a bottle
Adam / Wikipedia

The FDA has revoked permission for hydroxychloroquine to be used as a treatment for COVID-19, after the drug was publicly touted by President Donald Trump. That leaves the state of Ohio with a stockpile of millions of pills.

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) says the state as a whole has seen a steady trend in decreasing cases of COVID-19, but he’s warning of possible trouble in southwest Ohio which is not following that trend.

An NPR survey of state health departments shows that the national coronavirus contact tracing workforce has tripled in the past six weeks, from 11,142 workers to 37,110. Yet given their current case counts, only seven states and the District of Columbia are staffed to the level that public health researchers say is needed to contain outbreaks.