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Hospitalizations highest in nearly a decade as US flu outbreak worsens: CDC

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The U.S. flu outbreak worsened over the past week as more people headed to doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, with hospitalizations at the highest in nearly 10 years, U.S. health officials said on Friday.

Sixteen children died of the flu in the week ended Jan. 27, bringing total pediatric deaths to 53 for the season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly report.

Out of every 100,000 people in the general population, an estimated 51.4 have been hospitalized for the flu, surpassing the rate in the last severe season of 2014-2015, when 710,000 were hospitalized and 148 children died. Adults aged 65 or older had the most hospitalizations, followed by those aged 50 to 64 and children below 5.

“So far this year the cumulative rate of hospitalization is the highest since we began tracking in this way,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters on a conference call.

With the previous record now broken, “we fear this year might be even worse than 2014-2015,” Schuchat said in a telephone interview.

The United States is now 10 weeks into the current flu season, which is expected to last for at least several more weeks.

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The dominant strain during this flu season is an especially nasty type called influenza A (H3N2) that in seasons past was linked with severe disease and death, especially in the elderly and young.

Schuchat was named acting CDC director earlier this week after Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald resigned from the post because of financial conflicts of interest, including purchases of tobacco and healthcare stocks while in office.

Flu is widespread in 48 states, down from 49 last week, with Oregon reporting less flu activity, theCDC said.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” Schuchat said, noting that sick people should stay home to avoid transmitting the virus to others, frequently wash hands and cover their mouth while coughing or sneezing.

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The CDC official also said it was not too late to get a flu vaccine.

(Reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Richard Chang and Cynthia Osterman)

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Cops defend tackling and handcuffing 12-year-old boy for roughhousing with his cousin

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Police officers in Grand Rapids, Michigan, have faced an onslaught of criticism after they handcuffed and arrested a 12-year-old black boy, the Associated Press reports.

Officers claimed the boy was being violent, trying to attack a man with a wooden pole. The boy's mother disputes that account. She claims her son was just playing with his cousin.

Carreion Baker told a local news outlet that he wasn't aware that officers were after him, which is why he didn't respond to their commands to stop.

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A Maryland school told them to be quiet — but see what these students did

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Following the Parkland school massacre, students from Montgomery Country, Maryland were angry, grieving and scared. So what did they do? They quickly formed MoCo Students For Change and mobilized an estimated 6,000 students from over 40 schools in the area to attend a student rally on Capitol Hill that they organized to fight against gun violence.

In Brave New Films’ latest #YouthInAction series, we get a glimpse of what it’s like to organize this event through the perspective of the MoCo students themselves. Watch as they fight for their survival.

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GOP pollster gets hilariously destroyed after blaming a broken elevator in his European hotel on ‘socialism’

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Republican pollster Frank Luntz drew hackles from across the internet on Tuesday after he blamed a broken elevator at a hotel in Austria on "socialism."

Writing on Twitter, Luntz complained that the elevator at the Hotel Imperial in Vienna, Austria has not been functioning for three straight days -- and said that the European social welfare state was responsible for this purportedly dire situation.

"Please don’t bring European-style socialism to America," Luntz pleaded.

I’m at the Hotel Imperial in Vienna, Austria. Almost 200 rooms… But the elevator has been broken for 3 days.

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