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Flu Season Batters Houston Employers

This year's flu season is likely to cost Houston hundreds of millions of dollars.


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The Centers for Disease Control estimates even an average seasonal flu outbreak costs the nation’s employers billions of dollars. Dr. Pedro Piedra is with the Influenza Research Institute at Baylor College of Medicine.

“Houston is about 2% of the U.S. population. And if you translate the numbers for direct medical costs of about $10.4 billion in the United States, that translates to $208 million here in Houston.”

Those direct costs don’t include the hit from widespread absenteeism. That’s made even worse by the tendency of employees to come to work despite their illness. John Challenger is CEO of job outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“Some are worried, in this high unemployment environment, that maybe their job could be at risk if they’re not in and the work just doesn’t get done or someone else has to do it.”

The current flu season is shaping up as the worst in a decade, and it still has nearly three months left to run.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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