Epidemiologist says the dreaded triple-demic is here, with RSV, flu and Covid-19 cases all rising together
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map|
With national rates of influenza, Covid-19 and respiratory syncytial virus rising together, the “dreaded and much anticipated triple-demic is finally here,” epidemiologist Katelyn Jetelina writes in her newsletter, Your Local Epidemiologist.
RSV is a common virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. And while most people recover in a week or two, it can be serious for infants and older adults.
In Kentucky, Covid-19 hospitalizations increased for the second week in a row, taking a big jump in this week’s Covid-19 report. Hospitals reported 383 Covid-19 patients Monday morning, an increase of 102 over the prior Monday. That same report showed that nearly 80% of the state’s inpatient beds and 81% of its intensive-care beds were occupied.
Flu: “Flu cases are increasing and increasing fast,” Jetelina writes. She notes that flu hospitalizations are lagged, but increasing. “We expect hospitalizations to continue to rise in weeks to come,” she writes.
Kentucky’s latest flu report shows that flu activity in Kentucky continues to rise. In the week ending Nov. 26, the state confirmed 6,378 cases of the flu, up from 3,470 the prior week. So far, the total number of confirmed cases during this flu season is 15,909.
Jetelina adds that epidemiologist are hopeful that the U.S. flu season will follow what has happened in the Southern Hemisphere (Australia specifically) where there has been a high number of flu cases but a moderate level of hospitalizations.
Covid-19: “Covid-19 is on the rise across the globe due to the combination of seasonal changes, behaviors changes, and the variant soup. In the U.S., all signs point to the beginning of a wave. For example, SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater is rapidly increasing across all regions,” she writes.
In Kentucky, the state Department for Public Health reported 5,751 new coronavirus cases last week, or an average of 821 per day. That’s a nearly 49% jump over the week before, when the state reported 3,866 new cases. But that number that was 43% lower than the week before, indicating that Kentucky continues to be on a rough plateau.
“One major concern is the rapid rise in hospitalizations among older adults, which has exponentially increased 28% in the past two weeks,” Jetelina writes. “This is partly (or wholly) due to abysmal vaccination rates—only 1 in 3 adults over the age of 65+ have their fall Covid-19 booster. A public health failure. Without a recent booster, many people are technically vaccinated but not protected.”
Bottom line, she concludes, “This viral season is like no other. . . . I’m especially concerned for hospital systems, kids under 5, and adults over the age of 65, as they are at highest risk.”
She adds, “There’s a lot we can do: mask, test before seeing loved ones, get that airflow moving, stay home when you’re sick. The least you can do for a healthy season is get a flu and fall Covid-19 booster. If you haven’t gotten one yet, it’s never too late.”
Jetelina is a California epidemiologist and biostatistician who says she writes the newsletter on Substack as a way to translate public-health science for everyday use, helping people to make evidence-based decisions. She is also a consultant to a number of organizations, including the CDC.