By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland is among 26 states with high levels of the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Maryland Department of Health calls the flu outbreak in the state “high” and “widespread.”

The epidemic has brought a surge in emergency room visits in states where the flu is hitting hardest. In Califronia, some hospitals have had to set up triage tents outside ER’s to handle the patient load.

“The day came when we had extended waits of up to eight and nine hours for a patient to be seen,” says Michelle Gunnett, Palomar Medical Center’s emergency room nursing director.

Maryland’s health department tallies ER visits on a weekly basis, with the most recent being the week of Dec. 24, 2017. During that time, 1,574 patients visited emergency rooms with flu symptoms. Of those, 122 were hospitalized for the flu. Since flu season began, ER visits topped 11,000.

The total reported and confirmed cases of flu in the state stands at 2,504 and counting. That does not take into account all those who have come down with the flu but have not sought medical care.

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