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Flu activity remained high but declined for a second week in a row, according to CDC data

Flu activity remained high but declined for a second week in a row, according to CDC data

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CNN

Seasonal flu activity remains high in the United States, but continues to slow in most parts of the country, according to data published Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the second week in a row, hospital admissions due to the flu decreased last week. There were about 21,000 new hospitalizations for the week ending December 17. That’s down from a seasonal peak of more than 26,000 new admissions two weeks earlier, which was the week after Thanksgiving.

Despite these improvements, it is unclear whether the virus has peaked. Respiratory virus activity remains “high” or “very high” in nearly every state, and experts warn things could get worse again as holiday travel and gatherings continue.

The CDC estimates that there have been at least 18 million illnesses, 190,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths from the flu so far this season.

The cumulative hospitalization rate is more than six times higher than it has been at this point in the season in more than a decade.

And influenza is far from the only virus circulating; a stew of other respiratory viruses has been spreading for weeks, leading to an unusually high number of hospitalizations.

As of Friday, hospital capacity remained near record levels with about 77% of beds in use across the country.

RSV has peaked in the US as positive test rates and new hospitalization rates have slowed over the past month, and weekly RSV hospitalizations have dropped dramatically over the past month. But hospitalizations are still slightly higher than normal.

Covid-19 levels remain well below previous peaks, but trends are definitely on the rise in the United States: new hospital admissions have jumped nearly 50% in the past month.

Dr. Sean O’Leary, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases and professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado, told CNN it’s hard to predict what will happened after RSV and the flu season started early – and may have already peaked.

The holiday may still lead to an increase in illnesses.

“The holidays do lead to sometimes a small, sometimes modest spike in infections as people gather indoors,” O’Leary said.

US health officials are urging people to get vaccinated against flu and Covid-19, wear masks in higher-risk situations and focus on hand washing.

The White House’s Covid-19 response coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, urged people to stick to one basic rule, specifically: “If you feel sick, you should stay home.”


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