Flu season seems to be tapering off

Local hospitals are seeing fewer patients diagnosed with the flu — on some days no new patients are being diagnosed.

The Marion County Health Department is considering lifting their countywide visitation restrictions at hospitals. The restrictions originally were put into place two months ago due to the number of patients staying in the hospital with flu-like symptoms.

Franciscan St. Francis will lift its flu restrictions March 1, spokesman Joe Stuteville said. Johnson Memorial Hospital did not have restrictions in place but did recommend that only immediate family members should visit flu patients in the hospital.

Residents were hit with the flu about a month earlier than usual, starting in December.

Franciscan St. Francis hospital started seeing about six cases per day in early December, but by late December, the number of patients diagnosed doubled. By early January, the number of Franciscan St. Francis patients peaked at about 30 cases per day.

In the last three weeks, only five people tested positive for the flu virus at Johnson Memorial Hospital, compared to 29 people testing positive last month, marketing communications coordinator Casey DeArmitt said. From Jan. 1 through Jan. 23, 167 flu tests were administered in the hospital. But from Jan. 23 through Wednesday, 57 patients had been tested, DeArmitt said.