COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Hospitalizations continue to climb on the COVID front and another respiratory disease is now considered to be ‘high intensity’ here in the Buckeye state.

We’re talking about the flu. An emergency department physician says this is coming at a difficult time with Omicron still surging. And it’s something we haven’t experienced in some time.

“I was worried about the flu pre-COVID,” said Evelyn Boectcher. She says it’s a concern for every year.

“In 2019 the flu season was really bad, and a lot of schools were closing down,” she remembers.

This year, for the first time we’re juggling influenza and COVID.

“We just happened to not have an influenza spike last year because we did really good job a in masking and hygiene,” said Dr. Nicholas Kman, an Emergency Department Physician.

Right now, flu activity is considered high intensity in Ohio — that’s according to the Ohio Department of Health’s flu activity report. It says during the final week of the year, 94 people were hospitalized with flu.

“If you think about the lab person who test you for COVID or runs the test for COVID — that person also runs the test for influenza — so the more of these cases that we have every day the more our health system gets backed up,” said Dr. Kman. He’s talking about strain on resources.

He added for the two viruses, symptoms are so similar they have to test for both flu and COVID for treatment. Right now Ohio hospitals are treating more than 6,600 COVID patients, that’s according to the Ohio Hospital Association.

“One of the best things you can do is actually call your doctor as well because there are a lot of different resources out there where you can take a home test or you can go through a drive thru testing site,” he said.

People we spoke to say they hope flu numbers stay low and that COVID hospitalizations start to trend down soon.

“No matter what happens to you if you get in an accident even you might have a hard time getting treated so it’s definitely a problem, I especially worry about things you can’t control like you get the flu,” said Aaron Nielsen.

Dr. Kman says a way you can help hospitals with COVID and the flu is getting both vaccines. He added you can safely get both at the same time.