COVID, flu and RSV have Pennsylvania doctors cautiously optimistic heading into the holiday season amid concerns across the country.
PENNSYLVANIA, U.S. — COVID-19 and flu cases are expected to rise this holiday season, throwing an alarming number of RSV cases into the mix.
Health experts say they expect a “triple demia” this year, after battling a “twin demia” of COVID-19 and a more aggressive flu in late 2021-early 2022.
“It’s worrying because hospitals are being slammed across the country,” said Dr. Mohammad Ali, Penn State Health Infectious Disease Physician.
dr Ali says holiday gatherings are likely to continue this trend.
“Every time after Thanksgiving and then after Christmas and New Years, we tend to have taller people or taller patients in the hospital,” said Dr. Ali. “There are simply a lot of respiratory diseases.”
In a statement, WellSpan officials told FOX43 that patient traffic at some emergency care locations is more than double or triple what it was in previous years.
dr UPMC’s John Goldman says the health system is looking to hire additional staff to meet demand.
“We’re getting as many traveling nurses as we can,” Goldman said. “Unfortunately, we’ve found that this isn’t just happening in Pennsylvania. It’s happening all over the country.”
Nonetheless, says Dr. Goldman that he is optimistic that the situation at UPMC hospitals will be manageable.
“We expect our hospitals to be very busy,” Goldman said. ” [But] we don’t expect our hospitals to be overwhelmed.”
So is UPMC, where most children’s hospitals and ICU beds are full due to the drastic increase in RSV.
dr Ali says most people are unlikely to have a combination of the “triple demia,” but can get different diseases one after the other.
“The odds aren’t that high, but you can get infections one after the other,” said Dr. Ali. “You can recover from an infection, and [then get] Another.”
Both Ali and Goldman say the best way to prevent COVID-19 and the flu is to make sure you’re up to date on your annual vaccinations or booster shots.
They also say hand hygiene is best for preventing RSV, which is spread through frequently touched objects and is most common in young children.
None of the major health services have been able to give an exact number of how many COVID, RSV and flu patients they are currently caring for. dr However, Goldman noted that the number of COVID-19 patients in UPMC hospitals is around 30 to 50, which is a much lower number than last winter.
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