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Hospitalizations for Covid and flu increase, RSV decreases

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Healthcare workers treat a Covid-19 patient on the floor of the intensive care unit (ICU) at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, U.S., Monday, Jan. 31, 2022.

Dinner Allison | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Hospitalizations for Covid and flu increase after Thanksgiving holiday, while respiratory syncytial virus appears to be receding in some states.

This winter, hospitals are facing the simultaneous threat of Covid, influenza and RSV for the first time. The circulation of influenza and RSV has been very low during the pandemic due to widespread masking and social distancing implemented in response to Covid.

But while most people are getting back to normal life, traveling and gathering largely without masks, the three viruses are circulating widely. Public health officials have said many people are likely more vulnerable to the flu and RSV this year because they haven’t been infected in the past two years, which means their immunity is weaker. .

With Covid, many people are out of date on their vaccines, meaning their immunity is waning at a time when more infectious omicron subvariants have become dominant.

“The past few years have certainly not been easy, and now we are facing a new wave of disease,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters earlier this week. “Another moment of overloaded capacity and truly tragic and often avoidable sadness.”

More than 25,000 people were admitted to hospitals with the flu in the week ending Dec. 3, a 32% increase from the previous week, according to a CDC report released Friday.

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The flu hospitalization rate remains at the highest level for this time of year in a decade, according to the CDC. At least 13 million people have fallen ill with the flu, 120,000 people have been hospitalized and 7,300 people have died.

Hospitalizations of people with Covid have increased by about 14% week over week to more than 4,800 admissions per day on average, according to CDC data. More than 50% of people hospitalized with Covid are 70 and over.

Earlier this week, Walensky strongly encouraged everyone who is eligible to get their Covid booster and flu shot. There is no vaccine against RSV.

The CDC director also encouraged people to wear masks to help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses, especially those living in areas with high Covid community levels.

As respiratory illnesses rise, about 80% of hospital beds are currently occupied in the United States, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. About 76% of children’s hospital beds are currently occupied, according to the data. But in eight states, more than 90% of pediatric beds are occupied.

Outpatient visits for flu-like respiratory illnesses, defined as fever plus a cough or sore throat, are currently high in 43 states, according to CDC data.

RSV, on the other hand, appears to have peaked in some states. The weekly hospitalization rate for infants under six months old remains higher than every year since 2018, according to a CDC monitoring system that tracks data from 58 counties in 12 states.

But the admissions rate has fallen 53% since this season’s peak in early November, the data shows.

The weekly hospitalization rate for RSV among seniors has fallen about 17% since the peak in November, the data shows.

“We’ve seen signs that RSV may have peaked in some areas like the South and Southeast and may be stabilizing in the mid-Atlantic, New England and Midwest,” Walensky told reporters. reporters earlier this week.

In November, children’s hospitals called on the Biden administration to declare a public health emergency in response to soaring rates of RSV and flu admissions.

Children and the elderly are more vulnerable to influenza and RSV. In the case of Covid, the elderly and older adults are more vulnerable, while younger people generally face a lower risk of serious illness.

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