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Today’s Infectious Disease News (12/20/22)

COVID-19 Cases Rise Amid Flu and RSV outbreaks, Creating Triple Threat of

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COVID-19 Cases Rise Amid Flu and RSV outbreaks, Creating Triple Threat of Viruses

COVID-19 cases are increasing across the United States as flu and RSV continue to surge. Infectious disease experts warn this trifecta of viruses could cause hospitalizations to soar and overwhelm healthcare systems. Hospitals in many states are already feeling the effects of the outbreaks. More than 77% of the country’s hospital beds are currently occupied. Pharmacies are rationing medications such as Children’s Tylenol and Motrin because of extremely low supplies. As families gather for the holidays, everyone can take steps to minimize the risk of infection.

Staying Up to Date on Vaccinations

Getting vaccinated against the flu significantly reduces your chances of being hospitalized or dying from the virus. Getting the flu shot also lessens the length and/or severity of illness if you are infected.

Receiving the updated COVID-19 vaccine protects you and others against hospitalization and death. The initial vaccine formulation offers minimal protection against these newer variants because the virus has mutated significantly over the past three years. Two recent studies show that adults who received the updated booster are 56% less likely to be hospitalized or seek urgent care than unvaccinated individuals. The updated vaccine offered even more protection for people 65 years and older; They were 83% less likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 compared to people who had their last dose more than one year ago. In fact, people who received their last shot more than 12 months ago were just as likely to be hospitalized as individuals who were never vaccinated. Beyond hospitalization, a third CDC report showed the updated booster is more effective than the original vaccine formulation at stopping symptomatic infection.

Testing for COVID-19

If you suspect you may have COVID-19, testing at home is a great idea. However, a single rapid at-home test misses about half of infections. Studies show that taking 2 rapid at-home tests, 24-36 hours apart, detects COVID-19 80% of the time. If first test is negative, the CDC recommends that you test again at least one day later.

Every US household is now eligible to order 4 at home tests through COVID.gov/tests

Wearing a Mask at Indoor Public Places

Wearing a high-quality mask is one of the most effective ways to prevent infection from COVID-19, RSV, and the flu. KN95 or N95 masks are 83% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection and surgical masks are 66% effective a preventing infection.

For more information, see: New York Times, The Hill

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