Seasonal flu activity remains high in the United States, but continues to slow in most parts of the country. Information Published Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hospital admissions for the flu fell last week for the second week in a row. There were about 21,000 new hospitalizations in the week ending December 17. That’s down from more than 26,000 new additions two weeks ago, the week after Thanksgiving.
Despite these advances, it is not clear that the virus has peaked. Respiratory virus activity remains “high” or “extremely high” in nearly every state, and experts warn things could pick up again as holiday travel and gatherings continue.
The CDC estimates that the flu has caused at least 18 million illnesses, 190,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths so far this season.
The overall hospitalization rate is six times higher than it has been at this point in the season for more than a decade.
Influenza is far from the only virus in circulation; Other respiratory viruses can spread for weeks and cause unusually high numbers of hospitalizations.
As of Friday, the hospital’s capacity across the country is at about 77% bed utilization.
RSV has peaked in the U.S., and weekly RSV hospitalizations have declined dramatically in the past month as test positive rates and new hospitalization rates have declined. But hospitalizations are still slightly higher than normal.
Covid-19 levels are far lower than in previous outbreaks, but trends across the US are certainly on the rise: new hospital admissions have risen nearly 50% in the past month.
Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases and professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado, Dr. Sean O’Leary told CNN. Flu season is both early — and may already have peaked.
Vacations can still lead to an increase in illnesses.
“The holidays sometimes lead to a small, sometimes moderate increase in infections as people gather indoors,” O’Leary said.
US health officials are urging people to get vaccinated against flu and Covid-19, wear masks in high-risk situations and pay attention to hand washing.
The White House’s covid-19 response coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha has urged people to follow a rule of thumb, specifically: “If you are unwell, you should stay home.”
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