Where things stand 2 months after tripledemic's peak

It's been roughly two months since the combined hospitalization rate for flu, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus peaked. The decline, however, has only meant a minor sigh of relief for hospital workers. 

There were 49,536 emergency department visits for flu, RSV and COVID-19 in the U.S. for the week ending Feb. 4. This figure hit a peak in early December, when nearly 236,000 people visited the ED, according to a CDC dashboard. The combined hospitalization rate for the three viruses has been declining for weeks, sitting at 5.5 per 100,000 for the week ending Jan. 28, down from a high of 22.6 the week ending Dec. 3. 

Respiratory viruses aside, a number of factors ranging from staffing shortages to greater volumes of high-acuity patients mean hospitals remain as full as they've ever been. 

Two more notes: 

1. China's recent COVID-19 outbreak did not lead to the emergence of new variants, according to a review published Feb. 8 in The Lancet. The review found the most common subvariants from sampled infections in Beijing were omicron subvariants BF.7 and BA.5.2. In December, experts were concerned the country's outbreak after it rolled back its "zero COVID-19" policy could lead to the emergence of a new strain. 

2. The Biden administration plans to end the COVID-19 national and public health emergencies May 11. The American Hospital Association is urging HHS to ensure a smooth transition for healthcare workers and patients, specifically asking the agency  to make "permanent many of the policies authorized through waiver authority during the PHE that enabled hospitals and health care systems to deliver care more effectively and efficiently." 


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