13 states with 'very high' respiratory virus levels

COVID-19 and flu admissions continue to climb across the country, with the majority of states now reporting high levels of respiratory virus activity. 

Overall, 31 states reported high levels of respiratory virus activity for the week ending Dec. 23. Included in this total are a growing number of states seeing "very high" activity levels: Alabama, California, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and New York City. Two weeks ago, just five states reported very high levels. 

Virus activity levels are a measure of the weekly percentage of visits to an outpatient healthcare provider or emergency department for fever and cough or sore throat, according to the CDC. They reflect "how the percentage in the most recent week compares to what that jurisdiction typically experiences during low circulation periods." There are 13 activity levels, with 1 representing "minimal" activity and 13 representing "very high" activity. 

Weekly hospitalizations for COVID-19 and flu have also been climbing for weeks, with more than about 44,000 patients admitted for the week ending Dec. 23. Experts anticipate further increases over the next few weeks as holiday gatherings wrap up. 

The CDC in mid-December issued a health notice alerting clinicians and public health officials to prepare for an increase in severe disease and strain on the healthcare system for the duration of the viral season, given low vaccination uptake. 


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