Flu, COVID-19 activity up after Thanksgiving: 5 notes

Flu hospitalizations sat at a 10-year high the week of Thanksgiving and COVID-19 cases have risen since the holiday, though respiratory syncytial virus appears to have peaked in some parts of the U.S., CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said Dec. 5. 

Five notes:

1. Experts warned that heightened travel and indoor family gatherings for Thanksgiving could accelerate the spread of COVID-19, flu and RSV. COVID-19 admissions started rising in the days leading up to the holiday and, last week, hit the highest level seen in three months, with more than 35,000 patients hospitalized nationwide, according to The Washington Post.

2. The seven-day COVID-19 hospitalization average was 4,425 for the week ending Dec. 3, a 17.4 percent increase from the previous week's average, CDC data shows. The agency is forecasting that COVID-19 admissions will continue to rise over the next four weeks, with 1,600 to 11,000 new daily COVID-19 admissions reported on Dec. 23.

3. At the same time, nearly 20,000 people were hospitalized with flu during the week of Thanksgiving, marking a nearly 74 percent increase from the week prior and the highest figure seen for this week in a decade.

4. RSV appears to have peaked in the South and Southeast and may have plateaued in the Mid-Atlantic, New England and Midwest regions, Dr. Walensky said during a Dec. 5 media briefing. 

5. Still, the threat of a winter COVID-19 surge looms for hospitals already burdened by an influx of flu and RSV patients this fall. 

"It could be in a week or two we are seeing many more COVID patients than we are seeing RSV or flu, but the real concern is we will see a large influx of all of them really stressing out the hospitals' capacity to care for these very sick patients," Nancy Foster, vice president of quality and patient safety policy for the American Hospital Association, told the Post.


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