On Monday, December 5th, the Centers for Disease Control Prevention encouraged people to wear masks to help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses this season as Covid, flu, and RSV circulate at the same time.
The CDC’s Director, Rochelle Walensky, told reporters that wearing a mask is one of several everyday precautions people can take to prevent catching or spreading respiratory illnesses during the holidays.
The CDC not only encourages people to just wear masks, but to wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. People living in areas with high levels of Covid transmission should especially consider masking.
The CDC director said the agency is considering expanding its system of Covid community levels to take into account other respiratory viruses, such as the flu. The system is the basis for when CDC advises the public to wear masks, encouraging people to take proactive action.
Preventative measures are highly recommended this holiday season
People are being encouraged to take preventive measures, which include hand washing, staying home when you’re sick, masking, increased ventilation (especially during respiratory virus season and in areas of high Covid-19 community levels.)
About 5% of the U.S. population lives in counties where the CDC is officially recommending masks due to high Covid levels. The CDC continues to recommend masking for anyone traveling by plane, train, bus or other forms of public transportation.
For those with weakened immune systems and who otherwise face a heightened risk of severe disease, should also consider wearing a mask.
In addition to masking this season, the CDC strongly encouraged everyone eligible to receive their flu shot and Covid booster. Flu vaccination coverage is lagging for at-risk groups — children under age 5, pregnant women, and at-risk seniors — compared to last year. There is still no vaccine for RSV.
There is an emphasis that the flu vaccine can be life saving and importantly, there’s still time to get vaccinated to be protected against flu this season and its potential serious consequences.
The flu reaches a decade high for hospitalizations
This year, the flu has arrived early and hit the U.S. hard with hospitalizations at a decade high for this time of year. More than 8.7 million people have fallen ill, 78,000 have been hospitalized, and 4,500 people have died from the flu this season, according to CDC data. Fourteen children have died from the flu so far this season.
More than 19,000 people were hospitalized with the flu during the week ending Nov. 26, nearly double the previous week, according to CDC data.
People hospitalized with Covid also increased 27% during the week ending Dec. 2, according to CDC data. And respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, has been hospitalizing children at a higher rate than in previous years. RSV appears to have peaked in the Southeast and may be leveling off in the Mid-Atlantic, though circulation of the virus remains high in much of the nation.
We are now facing yet another surge of illnesses. Another moment of overstretched capacity and really one of tragic and often preventable death.
Dr. Sandra Fryhofer, board chair of the American Medical Association, said the circulation of Covid, flu and RSV at the same is a “a perfect storm for a terrible holiday season.” Fryhofer said she understands many people are tired of receiving repeated Covid shots, but getting vaccinated is the best way to avoid falling ill over the holidays.Last month, the Children’s Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics asked the Biden administration to declare a public health emergency, in response to the surge of pediatric hospitalizations from RSV and the flu.
Get tested and minimize the impact of infection
Recent US increases in respiratory infections suggests that Covid is not the only thing you should be cautious about this holiday season. Covid surges and antibiotic-resistant superbug infections are expected to continue developing rapidly across the United States over the coming months.
Did you know that Covid Clinic offers combination testing? That’s right– we offer testing for COVID-19, RSV, and the Flu. Testing is the best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Get Tested! Let’s help minimize the impact and spread.
Tested positive for COVID-19? We’re here to help you get the Covid treatment that is right for you.