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LITTLE ROCK — Another person has died from flu in Arkansas, bringing this season’s death toll to nine, according to a report from the state’s Department of Health.

The state’s activity level for “influenza-like illness” also rose slightly, from the lowest ranking to the second-lowest ranking. Both are considered “minimal” activity, the report said.

The weekly report covers data gathered through Saturday.

Thus far, seven of the nine people who have died from flu this year are over age 65, state data shows.

Since late September, health providers reported 1,150 positive flu tests to state regulators. However, that’s likely just a small fraction of total flu cases, since most illnesses aren’t reported, public health officials have said.

No nursing homes have reported flu outbreaks to the state thus far this season.

Also last week, 10 people were hospitalized with positive flu tests. That compares with 1,354 people in the hospital Tuesday with positive tests for covid-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

School absentee rates — one measure the state reviews to help identify flu and other outbreaks — averaged 7% last week, the report said. Absentee rates weren’t published the previous week because of the holiday period.

High absence rates were seen in Perry County, with 15.5% absent, and Crittenden County, with 10.4% absent. (The rates weren’t necessarily linked to flu.)

National reports of “influenza-like illness” rose slightly last week, with six states showing “low” activity — the highest measure this flu season, although overall reports are slightly down from what is typical.

Oklahoma, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona and Nevada had higher numbers of reports, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Health officials continue to stress the importance of getting flu shots because the flu season can last into late spring.

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