CHESAPEAKE BEACH, Md. — Flu cases are low so far this year in the DMV, according to doctors. But, the virus can still be deadly. One Chesapeake Beach family knows that all too well -- as they remember the daughter they lost to the virus in 2020.
Shannon Sandvik misses her 8-year-old daughter, Kinsley, every day. She died on Valentine's Day 2020 after being diagnosed with the flu.
“We definitely miss her spirit here," Sandvik said.
During the 2020-2021 flu season, cases plummeted exponentially, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), largely due to mask-wearing, social distancing, and record-high flu vaccinations in the U.S.
So far this year, a doctor with MedStar Health said cases are low in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
"So far, we have seen six cases of influenza at Johns Hopkins Medicine locations in Baltimore and the National Capital Region," Senior Director of Infection Prevention at Johns Hopkins Health System, Dr. Lisa Maragakis said. "These cases are sporadic, so far, but it is a bit early to see flu circulating compared with the pattern seen in a typical year’s respiratory virus season."
Sandvik said they preserve Kinsley's memory every day and make sure she still is part of their holiday traditions. She said they often take decorations up to her gravesite -- and even celebrated her birthday in June.
Sandvik said the pandemic proved challenging, taking care of her other four kids, and then becoming pregnant.
Their newest addition -- also a daughter -- was born a week after what would have been Kinsley's birthday.
“It was definitely hard being pregnant throughout the whole pandemic and then experiencing all of those firsts without Kinsley," she said.
Ever since she lost her, Sandvik said she's on high alert when her kids get sick.
“None of us in this household have had COVID. However, I can assure you that after losing Kinsley anytime my kids have sniffles or fevers or anything remotely like it, it freaks me out," she said.
Throughout the pandemic, she and her family wondered if Kinsley could have been sick with COVID-19 -- not the flu. However, they haven't investigated further to confirm or deny that theory.
Her best advice to moms as we enter what some doctors worry could be a flu resurgence: "Trust your gut instinct as a mom.”
For those wondering when the best time is to get the flu shot -- the VERIFY team asked experts. The answer: Right now -- during the month of October.