COVID admissions jump 20% as JN.1 spreads: 5 virus updates

Hospitalizations for respiratory viruses are on the rise nationwide following a holiday season marked by extensive travel and indoor gatherings.

Nearly 35,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the week ending Dec. 30, up 20.4% from the week prior, CDC data shows. This figure marks the highest weekly total seen since last January. ED visits for the virus also jumped nearly 13% week over week. 

The increases come as the omicron subvariant JN.1 now accounts for 61.6% of COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC's latest variant proportion estimates. The variant accounted for just 20.8% of cases in the week ending Dec. 9. 

Some health experts have warned that this winter's surge may be the largest since the original omicron strain appeared two years ago. The CDC said it's still too early to make accurate comparisons, though it noted current virus projections are "similar to BA.2, which predominated in March-May 2022," according to NBC News.

Four more virus updates: 

1. Flu admissions are rising nationwide. Hospitals reported 20,066 new flu admissions in the week ending Dec. 30, up from 14,789 the week prior, according to the CDC's latest FluView report. Overall, the cumulative hospitalization rate for the week was 22.3 per 100,000. This figure surpasses the weekly rate seen for any flu season dating back to 2014-15, with the exception of last year, when flu season started early and hospitalizations hit a 13-year high by the end of October.

2. Emergency department visits for respiratory viruses remain high, but their rate of growth slowed in the week ending Dec. 30. The CDC reported 235,915 combined visits for COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus reported for the week ending Dec. 30, up about 2,384 visits from the week prior.

3. RSV hospitalizations fell sharply in the week ending Dec. 30, CDC data shows. This drop was largely driven by a decrease in the number of children 4 and under and adults 65+ requiring hospitalization for the virus.

4. Rising respiratory virus activity is straining pediatric bed capacity. Many hospitals have reinstated mask mandates or opened up additional units amid an influx in virus patients. 


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