NEW YORK (AP) — Health officials say flu is more widespread across the nation — but the number of hard-hit states has declined. Flu season started early this winter, and includes a strain that tends to make people sicker. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today that flu was widespread in 47 states last week, up from 41 the week before. But many cases may be mild. The only states without widespread flu are California, Mississippi and Hawaii. There are now 24 states hit hard by the flu, down from 29. So far, 20 children have died from the flu.