Flu and RSV on the Decline But COVID Hospitalizations Rise

Holiday gatherings and travel, however, could send flu activity up again, experts caution.

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COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising in the United States, even as hospitalizations for respiratory syncytial virus and the flu continue to fall.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that, while flu is still spreading at high levels, virus activity is falling in "most areas." For the week ending Dec. 24, around 18,800 people were hospitalized with flu, down from around 20,700 hospitalizations the week prior.

RSV hospitalization rates have fallen significantly since their peak in mid-November of 5.1 hospitalizations per 100,000 people. For the week ending Dec. 24, the rate was 0.8 per 100,000.

According to the CDC, RSV results in around 58,000 annual hospitalizations and 100 to 300 deaths among children under 5 each year in the U.S.

As of Thursday, data from the Department of Health and Human Services showed that pediatric hospital beds nationwide — which include children hospitalized with Covid, RSV or flu, among other illnesses — were 66% full, down from 69% a week ago.

Even so, infectious disease experts urge caution. The country just celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas and will soon celebrate New Year’s, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee.

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