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Navigating the Peaks and Troughs of Respiratory Viruses: A Detailed Look at US Activity

Nationwide illnesses caused by three key respiratory viruses are alarmingly high, yet certain criteria monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) such as hospitalizations and levels of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater, exhibit signs of decline. Latest CDC updates for COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) report that the swift increases noticed in the weeks leading to winter’s onset have somewhat slowed. COVID-19 decreases are observed alongside continued RSV activity reduction in certain regions. While flu activity demonstrates steady or depreciating trends, the CDC vigilantly anticipates a possible secondary spike usual after winter vacations.

All-cause hospital capacity, including ICU, stays unvaryingly stable for COVID and flu. Of the two primary severity indicators for COVID-19, there’s a 9.6% drop in hospitalizations compared to the preceding week, but a 10.3% surge in fatalities was recorded. Predominantly, COVID-19 deaths constitute most fatalities from the three respiratory viruses and are supremely high in the Midwest and Northeastern areas.

Moreover, hospital emergency department visits have dropped by 19%, peaking in infants and elderly people, but are also heightened in young children. Slightly decreasing test positivity by 1%, it currently stands nationally at 11.8%, with slightly higher proportions in the Midwest, Northeast, South Central, and Northwestern regions.

Despite these trends, the influenza A strain remains highly dominant, making up 81.3% of positive respiratory specimens observed in public flu labs. CDC reported that SARS-CoV-2 wastewater detections remain exceedingly high, with Biobot SARS-CoV-2 surveillance also exhibiting consistent declining detections since December’s close.

Rising proportions of the JN.1 variant, a part of the BA.2.86 family, have also been observed, now accounting for 85.7% of the SARS-CoV-2 contaminants. Although the flu’s intensity has slightly mellowed over the last fortnight, some regions and age groups reported a surge in positivity percent at clinical laboratories and ED visits.

In its comprehensive snapshot of the respiratory virus, the CDC reported terms of flu visits to the ED are seeing an uptick in the 5-11 years age group and a decline in all their age groups. Yet the CDC’s recent weekly FluView bulletin reported a slight drop in outpatient visits for flu-like illnesses, still above the national average since November.

With seven more pediatric flu deaths reported this season, totaling up to 47 from early December to the first week of January, flu-induced fatalities across all age-groups experienced a 1.2% setback last week.

On the other hand, in their RSV tracking data, the CDC reported that although RSV activity is high throughout the nation, it has seen a reduction in certain regions, while test positivity for RSV has shown a consistent decline since mid-December.


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