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Tracking the Rise of Respiratory Illnesses

Pennsylvania flu spread ‘high’, national COVID-19 hospitalizations rise 27 percent

December 05, 2022

Hospitals across the nation reported increases in admissions due to COVID-19 and the flu during the Thanksgiving holiday, with both viruses continuing to trend up late last month.

The news comes as infectious disease experts are urging everyone to take action to help limit the spread of respiratory viruses this winter.

“The early brisk flu season in the United States intensified last week, with hospitalizations almost doubling and most states in the red and purple high or very high zones,” the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy noted.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Flu spread:  The flu is “high” or “very high” in 44 states, including Pennsylvania. New Hampshire, Vermont, Michigan, and Alaska are the only states reporting “low” or “minimal” flu spread.
    • Flu hospitalizations nearly doubled during the week ending November 26, with a reported 19,593 patients admitted.
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations up:  While new cases have declined slightly week-over-week, the seven-day average for COVID-19 admissions was 4,650 for the week ending December 2, a 27 percent increase.
    • The peak seven-day average during the pandemic was 21,525 during January 2022
  • Pediatric flu vaccine uptake:  A CDC report indicates that flu vaccine uptake among children was 40 percent. That’s similar to last year, but 5.5 percentage points below the same period in November 2020
  • Underlying conditions:  During previous years, nine out of 10 adults hospitalized for the flu had at least one underlying medical condition, CMS said today.
  • Quotable:  “WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that at least 90 percent of the world’s population now has some level of immunity to SARS-CoV-2, due to prior infection or vaccination,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “We are much closer to being able to say that the emergency phase of the pandemic is over—but we’re not there yet.”

During National Influenza Vaccination Week, HAP joins organizations around the country urging everyone who is eligible to get COVID-19 and flu vaccinations. Learn more about the options available in your community. In addition, you can limit the spread of respiratory illnesses by:

  • Staying home when sick
  • Practicing coughing, sneezing, and hand-washing etiquette
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth

HAP has published a toolkit that highlights the strain the flu, RSV, and other seasonal illnesses are placing on hospital emergency departments and the importance of COVID-19 and flu vaccinations. The communications toolkit includes key messages, social media assets, and other resources and is available online.