Jan 29, 2024 - Health

COVID, RSV continue post-holiday drop, but respiratory illnesses still high

Positive test rate for viral respiratory pathogens
Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

Cases of COVID-19 and RSV continue to decline since peaking around the holidays, though the amount of respiratory illness across most of the country remains high, updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows.

What they found: At the end of last week, 22 jurisdictions were experiencing "high" or "very high" respiratory virus activity — described as fever plus cough or sore throat causing someone to seek care — compared with 37 two weeks ago.

  • Positive tests for flu remain high. The CDC's preliminary flu assessment puts this season's flu severity at "moderate."
  • Emergency department visits for COVID-19, RSV and the flu are all decreasing, officials reported.
  • They're still watching for a second wave of flu, which often is observed after the holiday season.

Between the lines: Officials rely on wastewater surveillance to detect viral activity since few people are testing and few of those results are reported to health officials.

  • That surveillance indicates viral activity has dropped from "very high" to "high." The most activity was detected in the South.
  • Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina and New Mexico, as well as New York City, all have "very high" levels of respiratory virus activity.

Be smart: Before you reach for the Robitussin, make sure it's not part of a lot that is being recalled.

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