Tioga County Health officials say, while COVID-19 infection numbers are finally in decline, they have another worry.  New cases of the seasonal flu have been increasing.

From early October to early February, Tioga has seen 145 confirmed cases of influenza.

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News
Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News
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Health Department officials say “This contagious respiratory illness can cause serious illness” especially in the very young, the old, those with compromised immune systems and pre-existing respiratory issues.

They are urging residents to get their flu shot as well as the COVID-19 vaccine and booster.

Many locations, including pharmacies are offering flu shots at the same time people get the COVID vaccine or booster.

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As COVID-19 numbers inch up, but more slowly than during the Omicron spike over the holidays, two Southern Tier counties are reporting an additional death on February 16 attributed to the pandemic.  Broome’s death toll has gone to 488.

According to statistics from Our World in Data & the New York Times, Chenango County has now passed 9-thousand COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.  19 new cases reported on February 16 have driven the total to nine-thousand, eleven.  Another death was reported on February 16 for a total of 117.

State and local officials are urging people to do what they can to ease strain on local hospitals by avoiding contact with people who are ill and staying home if they feel sick, even if they test negative for COVID-19.  Residents are encouraged to get the flu shot, continue to wear masks in indoor settings and maintain physical distance from others.

While the COVID-19 new infection numbers decline, they are still higher than the rate a year ago.

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Masks are no longer required in indoor settings in New York State except in certain locations like hospitals, nursing homes, jails and on public transportation but they are still recommended and individual governments or businesses can still require masks if they choose.

Masks are still required in schools for now, New York Governor Kathy Hochul is expected to issue an update on that mandate after the winter break.

Here are some tips for self-care during the pandemic:

KEEP READING: See 25 natural ways to boost your immune system