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5 Things to Know: COVID Rises, Flu Declines, PHE Deadline

January 10, 2023

COVID-19 and the flu appeared to be trending in opposite directions heading into 2023, according to the latest reports from the federal government.

Public health officials continue to monitor the spread of the flu after its early-season arrival and the rise of the XBB.1.5 variant as it gains traction around the world. The recombinant Omicron variant is increasing in the U.S. and Europe and has been identified in more than 25 countries.

“These findings demonstrate that XBB.1.5 is spreading quickly,” the CDC said in its latest weekly report. “At this time, CDC’s COVID-19 guidance remains the same about how people can best protect themselves from serious illness.”

  • COVID-19 trends:  While still far below last year’s peak, the seven-day average of weekly new cases (67,243) increased 16.2 percent week-over-week
  • The latest on the flu:  Seasonal flu activity remained high in most areas, but has been declining in Pennsylvania and across the nation, according to the CDC’s latest report
    • The cumulative flu hospitalization rate (48.6 per 100,000) remained level week-over-week
  • The end of the COVID-19 PHE:  Media reports indicate the Biden administration will renew the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) for another 90 days before its scheduled expiration on Wednesday
    • The extension of the PHE is tied to the availability of federal COVID-19 tests and vaccines, as well as regulatory flexibilities that have helped providers respond to the pandemic
    • The administration has pledged to provide 60 days’ notice before formally ending the PHE
  • Impact of vaccines:  People 5 and older who were vaccinated with an updated bivalent booster had an 18.6-times lower risk of dying from COVID-19 during October 2022 compared to unvaccinated people
  • Quotable:  “COVID-19 will no doubt still be a major topic of discussion, but I believe and hope that with the right efforts this will be the year the public health emergency officially ends,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general

HAP strongly encourages everyone who is eligible to stay up to date on their flu shots and COVID-19 vaccinations. Staying up to date on your vaccines ensures you have full protection during this season of respiratory illnesses.

Learn the latest on bivalent booster doses and where you can make an appointment in your neighborhood.