Flu activity remains high, but has decreased for the second week in a row, according to the CDC
Seasonal flu activity remains high in the United States, but continues to slow across much of the country, according to data the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Friday.
The number of hospital admissions due to the flu last week fell for the second week in a row. There were about 21,000 new hospitalizations in the week ending December 17. That’s down from a season-high of more than 26,000 new admissions two weeks earlier, which was the week after Thanksgiving.
Despite these improvements, it is not clear that the virus has peaked. Respiratory virus activity remains “high” or “very high” in nearly every state, and experts warn that things could worsen again as holiday travel and gatherings continue.
The CDC estimates there have been at least 18 million cases, 190,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths from the flu this season.
The cumulative hospitalization rate is more than six times higher than it has been at this point in the season in more than a decade.
And influenza is far from the only virus in circulation; a stew of other respiratory viruses has been spreading for weeks, prompting an unusually high number of hospitalizations.
As of Friday, hospital capacity remains near record levels with about 77% of beds in use across the country.
RSV has peaked in the US as positive test rates and new hospitalization rates have slowed over the past month, and weeks of RSV hospitalizations have dropped dramatically over the past month. But hospitalizations are still somewhat higher than normal.
Covid-19 levels remain well below previous spikes, but trends are definitely on the rise across the United States: new hospital admissions jumped nearly 50% over the past month.
dr. Sean O’Leary, chairman of the Committee on Infectious Diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics and professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado, told CNN that it’s hard to predict what will happen with RSV and the flu season has started early. – and they may have already reached their peak.
Holidays can still lead to an increase in the number of illnesses.
“Holidays sometimes lead to a small, sometimes modest increase in infections, with people congregating indoors,” O’Leary said.
US health officials are urging people to get flu and Covid-19 shots, wear masks in high-risk situations and focus on hand washing.
The White House’s co-ordinator for the Covid-19 response, Dr. Ashish Jha, urged people to stick to one rule of thumb in particular: “If you feel sick, you should stay home.”