RSV could be at peak, Fauci says: 3 updates

The nationwide surge of respiratory syncytial virus — now at a critical point as pediatric hospitals request additional beds — may be at or near its peak, Anthony Fauci, MD, told CBS News' Face the Nation on Nov. 27. 

"Hopefully we're going to see that peak come down because if you look at other countries that have had those kinds of peaks with flu and RSV, it's peaked early, but come down," the outgoing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told the news outlet. 

Pediatric groups have urged federal officials to declare the RSV surge a public health emergency, citing an "alarming surge of pediatric hospitalizations." More than 75 percent of the nation's pediatric hospital beds are full, with many states above 90 percent capacity. When asked whether RSV is an emergency by CBS host Margaret Brennan, Dr. Fauci said, "It is if in fact, which in some regions of the country, we're seeing that the hospital system for pediatrics are at the point of almost being overwhelmed." 

When there is "very little wiggle room of intensive care beds," it not only affects children with RSV, but also patients with other diseases for which hospitals may not have an available ICU bed, Dr. Fauci said. 

"So if you get to that situation, that's approaching an emergency," he said. 

Three more updates: 

1. Hospitals in Michigan have appealed for more beds to manage increased RSV cases. Grand Rapids, Mich.-based DeVos Children's Hospital, for instance, filed an emergency request with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services earlier this month to add nearly 50 beds. Corewell Health, which has dual headquarters in Grand Rapids and Southfield, Mich., filed the certificate of need request to request the additional beds, as well as to designate 117 as intensive care beds, according to the Detroit Free Press. OSF Healthcare St. Francis Hospital and Medical Group in Escanaba also filed an emergency request with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to add 24 beds.

2. Hospitals in Oregon have declared crisis standards of care due to RSV. On Nov. 22, both OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel declared crisis standards of care. The hospitals, which are in Portland, Ore., are using the declaration to allow for staffing flexibility, according to hospital news releases.  

3. Health experts have indicated that Thanksgiving could accelerate the spread of respiratory viruses and intensify the threat of a "tripledemic" this winter. Experts gave the warning in a Nov. 22 NPR report. It comes as children's hospitals are facing a surge in RSV and flu, as well as another potential COVID-19 surge.

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