COVID-19 Hospitalizations Continue to Climb, While RSV and Flu Hospitalizations Decrease
COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising across the US. The weekly average of reported infections as of January 4 is rose to 67,000, which represents a 16% increase over the previous week. The official number of cases is an underestimate of the actual number of cases because most Americans don’t report rapid results of at-home tests and some people do not test at all. As a result epidemiologists typically look at hospitalizations and trends in cases, rather than the raw number of cases, to gauge the the virus’s activity in the US. Evidence of the winter COVID-19 surge is also found in wastewater samples, which show rising levels of the virus. Wastewater monitoring has become an important supplemental tool to help scientists track the spread of disease in communities. COVID-19 hospitalizations have exceeded the levels reached during the summer surge of 2022. The virus is hospitalizing older Americans at particularly high rates. Last week 2,700 people over the age of 65 died from the illness.
Meanwhile, flu and RSV cases are falling from unusually early peak. Cases and hospitalizations remain high, but the downward trend are a reprieve from the unusually early and intense start to the respiratory virus season. While this is encouraging news, infectious disease experts caution that influenza could spike a second time this season, as flu is historically unpredictable. Last week 18,954 people were hospitalized with the flu.