Thanksgiving kicked off a COVID surge, and it is slamming U.S. hospitals already battling the tripledemic of COVID, flu and RSV


The U.S. is seeing a post-Thanksgiving surge in COVID instances and hospitalizations, U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky mentioned Monday—an anticipated however regarding growth, with hospital capability already stretched skinny by epidemic ranges of the flu and RSV.

“The rise is particularly worrisome as we transfer into winter months, when persons are assembling indoors with much less air flow,” Walensky mentioned on a name with journalists. It’s extra regarding, she added, given upcoming vacation household gatherings involving the aged, who’re at larger danger for extreme outcomes from all respiratory sicknesses circulating at excessive ranges this fall.

U.S. COVID hospitalizations started trending dramatically upward after Thanksgiving, notably amongst these ages 70 and older. The present seven-day common of COVID hospitalization sits at 4,650, in accordance with the CDC—up 27% from the week prior.

U.S. hospitals are already beneath immense stress this fall, with epidemic ranges of RSV and flu within the nation, along with COVID, forming what specialists are calling a “tripledemic.” Final week grownup hospitalizations rose 15-20% week over week—principally among the many aged and people with pre-existing well being situations, Walensky mentioned.

Final week 77% of U.S. ICU beds have been occupied, in accordance with Johns Hopkins. Most of these beds—practically 56,000—are occupied by sufferers who don’t have COVID, whereas simply 4,000 are occupied by those that do have it.

Ranges of flu or flu-like sicknesses are additionally “excessive” or “very excessive” in 47 U.S. jurisdictions—up from 36 final week, Walensky mentioned. Since Oct. 1, the U.S. has seen practically 9 million confirmed instances of the flu, practically 80,000 hospitalizations, and 4,500 deaths as a result of illness. Over the past full week in November, flu hospitalizations practically doubled over the week prior, in accordance with CDC knowledge.

And RSV ranges stay excessive nationally, although there are some indicators that they might have peaked within the South and Southeast, Walensky added.

This yr’s flu season is off to an early and dramatic begin, Dr. Sandra Fryhofer, board chair of the American Medical Affiliation, mentioned Monday’s name. “And with COVID and RSV, it’s the right storm for a horrible vacation season.”

“You may get actually sick this yr and spoil your vacation celebration should you don’t get vaccinated,” she mentioned, urging these eligible to obtain their Omicron booster and their flu vaccine, which may safely be acquired on the identical time.

Even those that’ve already had the flu this season ought to get vaccinated in the event that they aren’t already, Fryhofer added. A number of variants of the flu are circulating, as typical, and it’s attainable to get it a number of occasions in a single season.

Federal well being officers on Monday inspired these feeling sick to check themselves for COVID, and to rearrange for a flu check if their COVID check comes again adverse. Antivirals like Tamiflu for flu and Paxlovid for COVID can be found through prescription, however should be taken early in an an infection to make a distinction, they mentioned.

Walensky additionally advisable that residents of the practically 6% of U.S. counties with excessive “neighborhood ranges” of COVID masks up, along with those that journey by airplane, practice, and bus, and people who are immunocompromised or in danger for extreme illness. 

“Neighborhood ranges” is a measure the federal well being company determines by new COVID hospital admissions in a county, along with the p.c of staffed beds in use by COVID sufferers. Per this metric, practically 1 / 4 of U.S. counties have “medium” neighborhood ranges of COVID, and practically 70% have “low” ranges.

The metric, nevertheless, differs from “neighborhood transmission” of COVID, which the CDC determines by wanting on the variety of new instances reported to public well being officers over the previous week, in addition to the proportion of lab-based COVID assessments returning constructive. By this metric, greater than half of the nation is seeing “excessive” COVID transmission, whereas greater than 1 / 4 is seeing “substantial” transmission.

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