(NECN/NBC News: Tracie Potts, Washington) - On Friday, the CDC releases its latest flu count and they're expecting a big jump in the numbers.
Flu is now widespread in 41 states, and we're starting to see the impact in emergency rooms nationwide. They're packed!
Not only is flu much worse than it was last year, but in some areas, medicine is scarce.
In Boston, the mayor declared a public health emergency with 700 cases so far this year. "That's ten times what we saw all of last year," said Boston Mayor, Thomas M. Menino.
They're offering free flu shots to combat what the CDC says could be one of the worst flu seasons we've seen in years.
"It was like something just hit me like a Mack Truck and I just felt sick all over," said Flu Patient Beverly Moss.
Doctor visits doubled in the last four weeks.
Some schools have closed.
Crowded emergency rooms are turning people away. This Pennsylvania hospital set up a tent for the overflow.
"If they've got mild illness, we can see them, evaluate them, treat them if needed and discharge right from the tent," said Terry Burger from Lehigh Valley Hospital.
Some areas are running out of flu shots and Tamiflu, which can shorten the illness.
So far, 18 children have died, including this six-year-old from Texas.
"She was a Daddy's girl, like I don't know what to do, it's like my heart is gone now," said Father of Flu Victim Earl Johnson.
This North Carolina hair salon is seeing the impact on workers, and customers.
"They're cancelling their appointments, they're rescheduling, they're coming in coughing, its been bad."
Experts predict the flu could cost employers 10 billion dollars.
The flu season started earlier, and could last longer, because this year's strain is said to be more severe.