COVID, flu admissions fall: 4 virus updates

Respiratory virus season's burden on the healthcare system may begin to ease after weeks of crowded emergency departments and hospital strain, the latest data suggests. 

In the second week of January, COVID-19 admissions fell nearly 10%, though more than 32,000 people with the virus were still admitted to U.S. hospitals, CDC data shows. The drop comes after nine straight weeks of increases. 

Three more updates: 

Flu admissions fell for the second week straight, with 14,874 lab-confirmed flu patients hospitalized during the week ending Jan. 13. However, experts have been hesitant to call this a trend since cases typically rise again later in the winter months. 

"A lot of times after a one- or two-week decrease around the holidays, we see a pickup in activity again," Alicia Budd, head of the CDC's domestic influenza surveillance team, told NBC News. "It is too early to know whether activity has peaked for the season." 

So far this season, the CDC estimates there have been at least 16 million flu cases, 180,000 hospitalizations and 11,000 deaths. 

Emergency department visits for COVID, flu and respiratory syncytial virus all fell in the same week. There were just over 157,000 combined visits for the three viruses, down from more than 215,000 in the week prior. The CDC noted that flu and COVID-19-related visits are still increasing among children between the ages of 5 and 11, while visits among other age groups are decreasing. 

RSV activity remains elevated in most parts of the country, with some areas starting to see decreases. Overall, the hospitalization rate among children under 4 remains high at 11.2 per 100,000 population.


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