Map lays bare America’s tripledemic of Covid, flu and RSV infections… so, how bad is it in YOUR state?

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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A map showing respiratory infection rates across the US reveals a ‘sea of red’ – as the US is hit by a tripledemic of viruses again this winter.

Thirty-eight states are now reporting ‘high’ or ‘very high’ levels of flu-like illnesses, official data shows, while Covid hospital admissions are up nearly 30 percent in a week.

Cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — a cold-like illness that kills thousands of babies and seniors annually — are still unseasonably high.

And the surge in cases has prompted hospitals in at least 14 states to bring back face mask mandates for patients, visitors and staff.

The above map shows levels of flu-like illness by state in the week to December 30, the latest available

The above map shows flu-like illnesses by state in the week to December 23, just before the latest one available

The above map shows flu-like illnesses by state in the week to December 23, just before the latest one available

And the above shows flu-like illnesses by state in the week to December 16, two weeks before the latest week available

And the above shows flu-like illnesses by state in the week to December 16, two weeks before the latest week available

Based on the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, which collects information from 3,400 hospitals across the country, in the week ending December 30, there were 38 states where levels had reached ‘high’ or ‘very high’ levels.

Rates of flu activity are high or very high in regions all over the country, with only some areas in the Plains and Midwest having lower levels. 

Only one state — Minnesota — still has flu levels at minimal levels.

Respiratory disease levels are normally high around this time of year, before infections peak in January and February.

But the earlier season coupled with children’s underdeveloped immune systems from successive lockdowns has raised fears the US could be in for a larger surge. 

The CDC reports visits to a healthcare provider for a respiratory illness increased seven percent in the week ending December 30, with 20,000 new hospitalizations.

Data showed 10million people have been infected with flu so far this season while 110,000 have been hospitalized. 

For comparison, at this time in 2019 — before the pandemic — there had been 7million illnesses and 55,000 hospitalizations recorded.

Estimates show a total of 6,500 deaths from flu are also thought to have occurred, compared to 2,900 at the same time in 2019.

During the 2023-2024 winter cold season, there have been 27 pediatric deaths. 

Overall, there were about 20,000 new admissions of people suffering from flu reported in the week to December 30 data showed.

This was up 36 percent from 14,700 reported over the previous seven-day period.

Covid hospitalizations are also rising, up 20 percent in a week to 34,800 over the latest seven-day spell.

And there are also signs RSV is causing more illnesses, with an estimated 125,000 cases were detected in the latest week — compared to 119,000 in the week beforehand.

Dr Jacob Glanville, a virologist based in San Francisco who is working on a universal flu vaccine, told DailyMail.com this was turning into a ‘tough winter’ for viruses.

‘Typically, after the holidays we see an increase in respiratory viruses,’ he said. 

The above shows the proportion of people being hospitalized with flu-like illness by age group. It reveals that children are the largest group

The above shows the proportion of people being hospitalized with flu-like illness by age group. It reveals that children are the largest group

Flu hospitalizations are continuing to climb, with data suggesting they are already double the levels at the same time in the 2019 to 2020 season before the Covid pandemic

Flu hospitalizations are continuing to climb, with data suggesting they are already double the levels at the same time in the 2019 to 2020 season before the Covid pandemic

RSV infections are also starting to climb again, after the new CDC director Dr Mandy Cohen suggested they had peaked

RSV infections are also starting to climb again, after the new CDC director Dr Mandy Cohen suggested they had peaked 

The above shows Covid infections according to wastewater. They are continuing to rise

The above shows Covid infections according to wastewater. They are continuing to rise 

‘So far, the CDC data is showing Covid-led hospitalizations aren’t at the same levels as the previous three winters. But there remains a lot of uncertainty about just how elevated the current surge can peak.

‘Everyone should make sure to wash hands, cover up coughs, and stay updated on their vaccines.’

Amid the rising infection levels hospitals across the US are now starting to reinstate mask mandates to help stop infections spreading.

Last week hospitals in four states — New York, California, Illinois and Massachusetts — became the latest to bring back the mandates for staff, patients and visitors.

There is limited evidence that masks help to prevent the spread of infections, but hospitals are using them because staff are likely to turn up to work sick — raising the risk of viruses spreading.

On Friday evening, the city of St Louis became the first this season to bring back a mask mandate for non-healthcare workers — saying its 3,000 employees would now need to wear the coverings while indoors.

‘With activity of winter viruses rising at such a rapid pace, we must take action to slow transmission and prevent strain on our hospital system,’ the city’s department of health said.

However, later that day they reversed course — switching to saying they now ‘strongly recommend’ face masks.

Republican lawmakers in the state said the U-turn was achieved after Governor Mike Parson stepped in .

A spokesman for the Governor said: ‘Governor Parson kept his word. A conversation was had with the St Louis Mayor’s Office, and a new policy has been issued reversing the earlier mask mandate as a result.’

Which states have high or very high levels of respiratory viruses? 

States with ‘very high’ levels of flu-like illnesses:

  • New Mexico
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Tennessee
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • New Jersey
  • Virginia
  • Colorado
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Ohio
  • Kentucky
  • Arkansas
  • Texas
  • Wyoming
  • Idaho
  • Nevada
  • California 

States with ‘high’ levels of flu-like illnesses: 

  • Washington
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • Arizona
  • Michigan
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Florida
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • Connecticut
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Wisconsin
  • Utah
  • Maine
  • Kansas

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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