Title: Decline in Seasonal Flu and COVID-19 Indicators Brings Possible Relief, but CDC Remains Vigilant
As the new year began, key indicators of seasonal flu activity showed a promising decline, offering a potential respite from the high levels of transmission experienced in recent weeks. The decrease in outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses (ILI) marked the first decline after several weeks of rapid increases, raising hopes that the worst of the flu season may be over.
Flu test positivity rates and hospitalizations have also slightly decreased, indicating a potential easing of the flu’s impact. However, despite these positive signs, the transmission of the flu remains elevated across the country, with 14 states reporting “very high” ILI activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC is closely monitoring the situation, particularly for a potential second period of increased influenza activity following the winter holidays. It is crucial to remain vigilant and continue taking precautionary measures to prevent further spread.
In addition to the flu, COVID-19 data has also shown some encouraging dips, with stabilized or decreased rates of positivity, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations after weeks of continuous increases. While this may be a positive development, it is important to note that COVID-19 wastewater activity levels remain high, especially in the South and Midwest regions. Early indications, however, suggest a slowdown in the Midwest and Northeast.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity remains elevated, although there are signs of decline emerging in certain areas. RSV is a common respiratory infection that primarily affects young children and older adults.
Despite the decrease in flu and COVID-19 indicators, the CDC underlines the importance of getting vaccinated against both viruses, as well as RSV. It is not too late to receive the flu shot or the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to recent research conducted in Canada, this season’s flu shots have shown 61% effectiveness against the most prevalent strain of flu, influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, spreading in the US.
The impact of the flu this season has already been profound, with at least 14 million recorded flu cases, 150,000 hospitalizations, and tragically, 9,400 deaths. Disturbingly, in just the first week of the new year, 13 children lost their lives to the flu, bringing the total number of child deaths this season to 40.
Amidst the hopeful signs of declining indicators, it is crucial to remain cautious and take necessary precautions to protect ourselves and those around us. Following public health guidelines, including proper hand hygiene, wearing masks, and staying home if feeling unwell, can contribute significantly to limiting the spread of both the flu and COVID-19.
Let’s remain steadfast in our efforts to combat these respiratory illnesses and prioritize our health and well-being.