According to data released Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seasonal flu activity is still high in the United States but has slowed in many parts of the country.
For the second week straight, flu hospital admissions declined for the flu. The week ending December 17 saw approximately 21,000 hospitalizations. This is a decrease from the seasonal peak of over 26,000 admissions in the week ending December 17.
These improvements are not conclusive evidence that the virus is at its peak. Experts warn that the virus’s activity in respiratory viruses is still high or very high in almost every state. They could also be increasing as holiday travel and gatherings continue.
According to the CDC, there have been approximately 18 million cases of flu, 190,000. hospitalizations, and 12,000 deaths this season.
The cumulative hospitalization rate has risen six-fold since the beginning of this season, more than at any time in more than a decade.
Flu is not the only virus that’s in circulation. A variety of respiratory viruses have been spreading over weeks, resulting in an unusually high rate of hospitalizations.
On Friday, 77% of all beds were in use at hospitals.
RSV has reached its peak in the US, as new hospitalizations and test positivity rates have slowed over recent months. Weekly RSV hospitalizations have also dropped significantly over the past month. Hospitalizations are slightly higher than usual, however.
Although Covid-19 levels are still far below previous spikes, trends are clearly on the rise in the United States. New hospital admissions have increased by nearly 50% in the last month.
Dr. Sean O’Leary is 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. He said it’s difficult to predict what will happen because RSV and flu season started early and may have already peaked.
Holidays can lead to an increase in illness.
O’Leary stated that holidays can sometimes lead to a small or a moderate spike in infections due to people gathering indoors.
US health officials are urging Americans to get vaccinated against the flu and Covid-19. They also recommend that people wear masks in high-risk situations and concentrate on hand washing.
Dr. Ashish Jha, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator, has advised people to follow one rule: “If you feeling sick, stay home.”