The United States is going through an intense flu season which has resulted in a number of deaths and large number of people of all ages being hospitalized.

So how bad is the current flu season in the U.S.?

According to a report by Vox, this was the first time in 13 years when the whole of continental U.S. was affected by flu (apart from Hawaii), as shown by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) current flu-tracking system. Also, according to a recent report  by the CDC, the flu activity increased by Jan. 20, which was in line with the predictions made by CDC officials that flu activity might peak mid-January.

Referring to the data shown in the report, Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the CDC, said that the flu season hadn’t reached the peak as of yet.

Nordlund said, “Hopefully we're in the peak currently, since the data is a week behind, or that it peaks soon. Regardless, there is a lot of flu activity happening across the country and likely many more weeks to come,” reported CNN.

As on Jan. 20, the hospitals of 39 states went through high patient traffic, an increase from 32 states the previous week. These numbers made this year’s flu season one of the busiest seasons for hospitals since 2009, Vox reported.

It added that people above 65 years of age or even older were going through the highest rate of laboratory-confirmed flu hospitalizations. This was followed by people in the age groups of 50-64 and children aged 0-4.

Daniel B. Jernigan, director of the Influenza Division of the CDC, said that in most years, various states had their own time when the flu activity hit its peak but this season, the flu activity was equally widespread, Popular Science reported. 

Jernigan said, “We often see different parts of the country 'light up' at different times.”

“But for the past three weeks, the entire country has been experiencing lots of flu, all at the same time,” Jernigan added.

He also notified that this flu season was significant as it hit “Baby Boomers” harder than other years. “Baby Boomer” means a person who was born in the U.S. between 1946 and 1965. Jernigan stated that one of the reasons for this might be the fact that the “Baby Boomers” might not have been exposed to H3N2 strains during their childhood.

Jernigan stated that the flu resulted in 37 deaths so far in the country, but it might climb as the flu season continues. 

The H3N2 is a strain of Influenza A virus and most of the flu cases reported this season involve this strain, reported Vox.

Amidst this torrid period, the CDC also lost its director Wednesday as Brenda Fitzgerald resigned from her post after reports came in that said she bought tobacco stocks during her time in office, which was against the agency’s public health mission.

According to a report by the Hill, public health experts stated that Fitzgerald’s resignation from the organization was untimely. However, they were quite confident that the acting director of the agency would be able to do a good job until Fitzgerald’s replacement is appointed.

George Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association said, “CDC has a skilled and professional staff, but sound leadership can always make a public health response better.”

“The agency’s remaining leadership can handle this until a new director is named. We need to ensure the next director is science-based and knows public health well so they can hit the ground running,” added Benjamin.

The report further stated that Anne Schuchat, who was the principal deputy director of the CDC, would be in-charge of the organization until someone fills the position of Fitzgerald.

John Auerbach, a former official of the CDC, said, “The employees of the CDC are dedicated professionals. They will do everything possible to keep the work on track,” The Hill reported.

Speaking about the budget cuts proposed by the White House for public health and biomedical research programs, Auerbach said, “This comes at an unfortunate time because the budget will soon be released by the administration, and we’re concerned that, as was the case last year, the CDC’s budget may be significantly reduced in the proposed administrative budget.”

Auerbach added that when the Trump administration will release the budget proposal in March, the CDC most probably won’t have a permanent leader in place who would defend the agency from the budget cuts. The CDC didn’t reply to a request for a comment on the matter.