If you've been desperately searching for some sort of silver lining in relation to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they have been few and far between.

But there may be one piece of good news.

USA Today is reporting that data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the number of people getting the flu in the United States has dropped considerably.

When comparing the 2019 influenza numbers to this season's infections, there has been a dip of better than 98 percent - from more than 65,000 cases from September 29 to December 28, 2019, to just 1,016 cases during that same time frame in 2020.

The numbers in South Dakota are showing a similar drop-off.

The most recent data on the State Department of Health's website shows no new influenza cases in South Dakota during the week of December 27 to January 2.

For the season, which ends in about a month, there have been 16 total lab-confirmed influenza cases statewide, with six hospitalizations and two deaths. The most recent data available (from the 2018-19 season) shows South Dakota with 9,555 positive flu cases with 653 hospitalizations and 43 deaths.

Health experts credit two main factors for the dramatic drop in influenza infections nationwide.

The first are the COVID-19 related social distancing practices put in place, which include mask-wearing and hand washing.

The second contributing factor is a record number of people getting a flu shot this season, with more than 192 million doses of the influenza vaccine being distributed.

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