Dips in COVID, flu metrics may not signal peak, experts say: 8 virus updates

After weeks of rising cases of flu nationally, hospitalizations and positive tests have slightly declined. COVID-19 hospitalizations have also slowed for the first time in weeks, according to CDC data.

Still, experts say even with the slightly declining cases of flu and COVID-19, experts are underscoring that it isn't time to relax quite yet — with some even suggesting that another surge could be on the horizon. But right now, "it is too early to know whether activity has peaked for the season," Alicia Budd, head of the CDC's domestic influenza surveillance team, told NBC.

"Folks try not to seek care during the holiday season, so we see these divots in the surveillance graphs each year, but it is very probable that during the next weeks, we'll see an upsurge of cases," Eduardo Azziz-Baumgartner, MD, a physician with the CDC's Influenza Division, told CBS News

The CDC noted in November that vaccine uptake was lower than officials would like to see, which some experts worry is contributing to pediatric deaths this respiratory virus season and leading to increased hospitalization. Although, CNN reported that as of current data, hospitalizations due to respiratory viruses this season will likely be similar to last year.

"We might be tired of it being respiratory virus season in the winter, but it shouldn't surprise us," Janet Hamilton, executive director of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, told CNN. "Just because you've experienced flu or COVID or RSV and been fine before doesn't mean that's what's going to happen the next time."

Seven more updates on the latest information regarding respiratory virus season activity:

  • There are 37 CDC jurisdictions that have reported elevated or increasing respiratory illnesses as of Jan. 12.

  • Although the number of COVID-19 and flu cases are slightly down at the moment, CDC notes it is not a "trend" that is likely to continue, CNN reported.

  • Cases of RSV in youth are continuing to climb.

  • Hospital capacity nationally remains fair, but CDC notes that "some jurisdictions are reporting strain on hospitals locally, driven, in part, by recent increases in respiratory illness."

  • In the most recent week of CDC data, there was a 13.1% decline in emergency department visits due to COVID-19. ED visits for flu and RSV also fell. 

  • There have been 40 pediatric influenza deaths this season. Thirteen of which were in the last week.

  • CDC estimates there have been 14 million illnesses, 150,000 hospitalizations, and 9,400 deaths from flu this season.

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