Winter flu and respiratory illnesses are showing no signs so far of slowing down this season.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's map of influenza-like illness is almost completely saturated with dark red and purple -- indicating high levels of respiratory illness.

Currently, 44 U.S. states as well as New York City, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico are reporting "very high" or "high" levels of influenza-like activity, according to CDC data released Friday.

By comparison, nearly all states last year at this time were reporting low or moderate levels with New Mexico and Minnesota reporting high levels.

PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The sign over a drug store advertises flu shots amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Seattle, March 17, 2020.
Brian Snyder/Reuters, FILE
The sign over a drug store advertises flu shots amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Seattle, March 17, 2020.

Additionally, the number of flu hospital admissions reported to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services almost doubled compared to the previous week.

There were 19,593 newly admitted patients in hospitals reported this week, compared to 11,269 in the previous week.

The hospitalization rate continues to be the highest for this time in the season since the 2010-2011 season, or as far back as statistics are available.

So far this season, there have been an estimated 8.7 million illnesses, 78,000 hospitalizations and 4,500 deaths from flu.

Two influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported this week, for a total of fourteen pediatric flu deaths reported this season.

It comes as cases of flu and RSV are also appearing earlier than usual and spreading across the country.

"During the early years of COVID, when people were isolated, taking precautions, including wearing masks, we actually saw very low rates of flu and RSV compared to normal years," U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told GMA3 Thursday.

The CDC continues to report that the majority of influenza viruses tested match well to this season's influenza vaccine.

"With COVID and the flu the good news is we have vaccines available, and the most important job of these vaccines is to save your life and keep you out of the hospital. And by that measure, they are working well," said Murthy.