Where flu, RSV and COVID are on the rise before Thanksgiving

(NEXSTAR) – As Americans prepare to gather for the holidays, many say they fear getting sick in the months to come. Based on the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these concerns may be real.

Although the CDC isn’t tracking COVID-19 testing as closely as it has during the pandemic, it is still tracking other COVID-related data.

That includes COVID hospital admissions, which jumped nearly 9% in the most recent week of data, through Nov. 11. The percentage of people going to the emergency room and testing positive for COVID increased by 7%, and the number of deaths attributed. to COVID is up 9%.

The numbers aren’t as grim as in recent years, but CDC data shows that some areas of the country may be seeing more COVID cases than others.

The CDC currently considers 20 or more new hospitalizations per 100,000 people in a week to be a “high” level. As you can see in the map below, the Big Island of Hawaii, White Pine County, Nevada, and the counties of Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas fall into this category.

There are many more regions experiencing an “average” level of new COVID-related hospital admissions. Nearly 30 states have at least one county in this category. This includes areas of the Ohio Valley: southern Ohio, eastern Kentucky, and the western parts of West Virginia and Virginia.


It’s not just COVID that’s circulating. CDC data shows flu on the rise in the United States

Flu data released Friday shows very high activity last week in Louisiana and high activity in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and South Carolina. It was also high in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory where health officials declared a flu outbreak earlier this month.

Influenza activity was moderate but increasing in New York, Arkansas, California, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. And even though flu activity has been high in Alaska for weeks, the state didn’t report data last week, so it wasn’t part of the latest count.

Tracking during flu season relies in part on reports of people with flu-like symptoms who visit doctors’ offices or hospitals; Many people with the flu are not tested and therefore their infections are not laboratory confirmed. COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses can sometimes confuse the issue.

flu map 11.11
The latest COVID flu map for the week ending November 11, 2023. (CDC, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases)

Speaking of other respiratory viruses, the CDC reports that RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is also on the rise. After declining over the summer, RSV detections are increasing in the United States, reaching thousands earlier this month. Among the states where cases are increasing are California, Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. Some states are still reporting “insufficient data,” according to the CDC.

There are currently vaccines available to eligible Americans against all three viruses. Health experts say you can get your COVID booster and your flu shot at the same time. Seniors and those who are pregnant are also eligible to receive the first-ever RSV vaccine approved by the FDA earlier this year.

Flu vaccination rates are better than those for the other two major respiratory viruses – COVID-19 and RSV. About 14% of adults and 5% of children have received the currently recommended COVID-19 vaccine, and about 13.5% of adults 60 and older have received one of the RSV vaccines that became available earlier this year.

The CDC says there are a number of things you can do to avoid getting sick during cold and flu season. This includes staying home when you are sick (even if you have to miss the holiday gathering), washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and maintaining other healthy habits like staying physically active and get enough sleep.

The Association Press contributed to this report.

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