Hospitalizations for influenza have reached a decade-long high in the United States, health authorities revealed this week, a possible indication that common respiratory viruses are surging again after over two years of relative placidity amid sheltering orders during the COVID pandemic.
Dawn O’Connell, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, warned at a media briefing on Friday that hospitals in the U.S. could “face some challenges this winter” due to “increased RSV infections, a rising number of flu cases and the ongoing burden of COVID-19.”
Lynnette Brammer, the team lead of domestic influenza surveillance at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that “right now … we are seeing an early season.”
“As far as how severe the season will be, we’re just going to have to wait and follow the season,” she said.
“But right now we’re not seeing anything that would lead us to believe that it is more severe. It’s just early right now.”
O’Connell said that in addition to flu vaccinations, people “should also practice everyday preventive measures such as cough, hygiene, or etiquette—that is, covering your coughs and sneezes, staying away from individuals who are ill, and frequent hand-washing or using alcohol gels.”