KANSAS CITY, Kan. — With Christmas nearly here, doctors at the University of Kansas Health System, and nationwide, are concerned about a possible rise in hospitalizations for the flu, COVID-19, and RSV.
Joan Vaughn is still getting over COVID-19 after traveling to Washington D.C. with her husband last month.
“Both of us got sick at Thanksgiving from our 20-month-old grandson,” she said.
Vaughn was sick for about a week but still has a lingering cough. She described the experience one of the worst infections she’s had.
The Parkville resident is now planning a trip to Minnesota for New Year’s Eve. This time, she plans on taking the proper precautions, something health experts here at home and nationwide recommend. Many of them are now warning of a surge in cases as families meet for the winter holidays.
“We know people will be getting together for that, so we have to expect more viral circulation, infection, and possibly hospitalization after that,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson with the University of Kansas Health System.
The infectious diseases expert said the Kansas hospital is seeing more people hospitalized with the flu, COVID, and RSV, with the flu being particularly nasty right now.
“Typically, on a bad flu season, we’ll have five to seven patients in the hospital,” she said. “This year we had, early in the season, even late November early December, we had more than that: 20 to 25.”
The CDC estimates that 13,000,000 Americans have gotten the flu this year with 7,300 deaths. While RSV cases seem to be declining nationally, infection rates are still high across much of the country.
Depending on where you travel, the CDC is now going so far as to recommend masking indoors in New York City and Los Angeles County to slow the spread.
“You don’t want to be ill when you’re at your destination, and you don’t want to transmit the virus as well,” added Hawkinson, who just traveled to Illinois and commented how maybe 3% of people he encountered at the airport were wearing masks.
One way to try to prevent infection is by getting a flu or COVID-19 shot. There isn’t one for RSV just yet, but that could change next spring when the FDA decides whether to approve one designed by Pfizer.
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