Nov 21, 2022 - News

Colorado threat of "tripledemic" is coinciding with the holidays

Illustration of shadow hands grabbing at a tissue box

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Don't be surprised if you come in contact with a few uninvited guests around the Thanksgiving table this year.

What's happening: The threat of a "tripledemic" collision of flu, COVID and RSV cases has arrived just in time for the holidays β€” and the chances of getting sick this season are high.

  • Meanwhile, local health workers on the front lines are seeing an unprecedented number of patients as staff levels remain squeezed.

What they're saying: "All of our ERs are basically seeing volumes 30, 40 to sometimes even 50% above even the highest numbers that we've seen in previous seasons,” Kevin Carney, associate chief medical officer with Children's Hospital Colorado, which has four Front Range facilities, told CPR.

  • The flu is "very quickly gonna really compound the complexity of what we're managing here," Carney added.

By the numbers: Colorado is one of 16 states with a "very high" rate of influenza-like illnesses, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • The state is reporting about 900 RSV hospitalizations so far this fall, nearly 380 patients in the hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 160 flu hospitalizations this season.
  • Meanwhile, nearly 90% of all intensive care beds in Colorado hospitals statewide are filled, state data shows.

The big picture: The data suggests this year's respiratory illness season is hitting Colorado and other parts of the U.S. harder and earlier than in previous years, Axios' Jacob Knutson reports.

  • Flu activity levels nationwide haven't been this high this early since the 2009 swine flu pandemic, according to CDC data.
  • The spike also coincides with a higher rate in RSV cases compared to previous years and the continued spread of COVID-19.

Be smart: Health experts say the best ways to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses is to avoid public places if sick, wear face masks, wash hands regularly, and stay up-to-date on COVID and flu vaccines β€” which can be received simultaneously.


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