"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Flu rates rise after holidays, but COVID less severe: CDC

January 8, 2023 – Flu season continues to worsen nationwide as 38 states experience high or very high levels of the respiratory virus known to cause a spate of symptoms resembling fever, sore throat, runny nose and body aches.

January and February are the standard months when the flu peaks, nevertheless it's unclear whether this yr's edition of the annual viral outbreak will get even worse. Health officials expect things to remain this bad for no less than some time.

“We expect levels to remain elevated for several weeks,” said Alicia Budd, MPH, of the CDC's Influenza Division The Associated Press. She said flu season has been moderate to date this yr.

Last week, CDC Director Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, predicted that the flu would peak in late January, based on the AP reported.

More than 20,000 people were hospitalized with the flu within the week ending December 30, a major increase from nearly 15,000 the week before. Health officials use hospitalization as a sign of how badly the flu is affecting people. The latest data shows that just about one in five flu tests are positive.

On the COVID front, the JN.1 variant continues to spread. It now accounts for 62% of cases within the U.S., up from 44% two weeks ago. It can also be essentially the most common variant worldwide.

The CDC said in an update Friday that COVID activity was high nationwide but cases were less severe than early within the pandemic.

“In particular, the virus concentration in wastewater has increased rapidly in recent weeks,” says the report To update stated. “In comparison, metrics for COVID-19-related illnesses requiring medical attention, such as emergency room visit rates, have also increased, but to a lesser extent and remain 21% lower than the same time last year.”

Another sign that COVID cases are trending less severe is the incontrovertible fact that the hospitalization rate is 22% lower than a yr ago, and COVID-related deaths are also much lower. The CDC said COVID cases are less severe not due to the characteristics of the virus, but because 97% of individuals have some immunity from vaccinations, a previous infection, or each.

“This immune protection may wane over time, but tends to last longer in preventing severe disease than in preventing infection,” the CDC said in Friday's update, noting that “not enough Americans are vaccinated.”

“As of December 30, 2023, only 8% of children and 19% of adults reported receiving the updated COVID-19 vaccine. Only 38% of adults ages 65 and older report having received this vaccine, which is concerning given the higher risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) seem like declining. CDC Data There were 9,083 cases reported statewide within the week ending Dec. 30, a decline from a month-long period of greater than 11,000 weekly cases.