PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Health experts warned that a so-called tripledemic of COVID-19, flu and RSV would strain the nation’s health care system. Now, they say it appears the U.S. has hit the peak of illnesses this season.
Health experts from local hospitals say it was a “harrowing” winter. Researchers from Oregon Health & Science University say RSV and the flu put up record numbers this season.
RSV and flu peaked at the beginning of December, and though general COVID infection wasn’t as high as it has been in the past, it still added to the burden in the hospitals.
Dr. Peter Graven with OHSU says both RSV and flu are down 50% from their peaks. Despite being “over the hump” of winter illnesses, doctors say the lingering effects remain and the hospitals are still busy.
Graven says while it’s a good thing we got through the traditional seasonal viruses, he says it’s interesting COVID remains. He says it looks like it will be staying though it’s severity will vary.
When hospitals do feel the burden of viruses spreading, it’s an important reminder that an increase in patients impacts everyone.
“When you look at the boarding numbers, people trying to find a bed in the hospital, when you look at the number of available beds, it’s still not a great,” said Graven. “And this isn’t just for patients sick with respiratory illness. If there aren’t enough hospital beds, that means there’s none for anyone — no matter the degree of emergency. Not to mention all the procedures getting postponed due to capacity.”
Graven says he anticipates a more traditional season for RSV and the flu next year but also admitted we’ll ultimately have to wait and see.