Hand washing is a big deal at the Tufts Medical Center emergency room. Nurse Sandy Gibbons said they've seen a surge of flu patients in the last couple weeks .
“And it came on very fast. That's what we've noticed. It went from being a trickle to inundated within a matter of two to three days,” said Gibbons.
Hospitals are inundated across Boston. Influenza cases are up more than 10-fold from last year's mild season. And that's a challenge for hospitals that already are nearly full, said Dr. David Hooper at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“The surge in influenza patients since early December has really added a lot more pressure on managing beds and making sure everyone gets the care they need,” he said.
But while 47 of the 50 U.S. states are reporting widespread flu activity, the response from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is so far unique.
“Today [January 9] I am declaring a public health emergency in the city of Boston,” said Menino.
The city is offering free flu shots at clinics across the city and urging everyone to get vaccinated.