CDC: Flu could cost businesses $10 billion nationwide - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

CDC: Flu could cost businesses $10 billion nationwide

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The flu outbreak is impacting cities nationwide.

A hospital outside of Allentown, Pennsylvania had to set up a large tent to deal with the crush of patients.

In Boston, the Health Department has declared an emergency. This time last year, the city had 70 reported flu cases. The number so far this year has topped 700.

The flu is also having an impact on the economy. The Centers for Disease Control says it could cost businesses more than $10 billion nationwide.

Her in Chicago, hospitals are still overwhelmed by flu patients and the Director of Communicable Disease Control for the Cook County Department of Health says the battle with the flu is far from over.

"It hasn't yet peaked. That is still increasing," says Dr. Michael Vernon. "On a week-to-week basis we're seeing more people visiting the emergency department complaining of flu like symptoms or influenza like illness."

Health officials say the flu is not slowing down. It's believed people are still going to work sick. Some say it's because they can't afford to take time off or don't have paid sick time.

"I don't think it's a good idea to come into work when you're sick because you're just spreading it around and everyone else gets sick," says Chuck Broeker.

"Our office is getting better about that," says Susan Kriwanek. "They're working from home more and trying to contain it a little better."

John Challenger, a CEO, says more offices are beginning to realize one sick employee can affect so many others. But, he says a good reason for that might be the fact that 38% of the American work force does not have paid sick days.

"Companies are taking many steps, encouraging live shots, sometimes subsidizing those, they're putting more of the bacterial gels out for people," Challenger says. "Some require people to wear masks. We've even seen distance kinds of policies where there's a 3 foot rule, a 3 foot buffer where people have respect that distance to prevent that passing of the flu virus."

Health officials say the usual spike for the flu doesn't hit until next month. Flu season doesn't end until May and that's why they're encouraging people to get vaccinated.

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