Schools in at least 11 states have closed as the worst flu epidemic in nearly a decade intensifies. The dominant strain of flu this season, H3N2, known for being particularly virulent, has resulted in the deaths of at least 37 children and is expected to cause more as the epidemic persists several more weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projected on Friday.

Seven children died this week, authorities said. Hospitalizations, a predictor of the death rate, rose to 41.9 people per 100,000, up from 36.9 the week before. An estimated total number of deaths due to the flu won’t be available until next season, according to the CDC. Outpatient hospital visits by people with the flu have been skyrocketing for several weeks, and as of mid-January had surpassed every season except 2009-10, when a new strain of flu caused a global pandemic. READ MORE