Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), COVID-19 and influenza continue to overwhelm healthcare systems in the United States, well before the traditional start of the peak influenza and RSV season.
Currently, about three-quarters of hospital beds are already full in the United States, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.
COVID-19 cases have risen about 11% in the past two weeks, NBC News recently reported, and experts said cases will likely rise further as more people gather outside. interior during the holiday season. Also, a wave of COVID recently hit Europe, which could mean one is on the way in the US.
Flu cases, meanwhile, are soaring, with 18.22% of tests for the virus coming back positive compared to 8.16% four weeks earlier, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitalizations at this point in the season are higher than they have been in 10 years, largely due to children. About 3,000 people, including 12 children, have died of the flu in the United States since October.
“We will likely see an increase in the coming weeks,” Lynnette Brammer, epidemiologist and team leader of the CDC’s National Influenza Surveillance Team, told NBC News.
VRS by state
RSV, a virus that primarily affects children and the elderly, has made headlines in recent weeks as it has caused serious illness at unprecedented levels. Several doctors told TODAY.com they have never seen such a high number of children who have required so many medical interventions because of the virus.
While nationwide cases have begun to decline, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, RSV cases by state are a different story. California hospitals are still feeling stressed, the Los Angeles Times reported Nov. 28. And state-level RSV data collected by the CDC shows that 23 states saw increases in the week of Nov. 19, the most recent week surveyed. (The CDC collects the five-week average of RSV cases detected per week for most states.) These states are:
- South Dakota
- New York
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
Nationally, RSV cases are still higher than they were in early to mid-October, when children’s hospitals began to feel the strain of the surge, as reported by TODAY.com at the time. Additionally, it is unclear whether the downturn will hold, as RSV typically peaks in January or February.
“Nationally, the numbers seem to be dropping,” Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 task force coordinator, told NBC News. “We will want to see over the next few weeks where it goes. But the preliminary evidence right now is pretty optimistic.
Pediatric Hospital Beds Available by State
Regardless of what happens with each “highly contagious” virus, as Jha described them, it’s clear that hospitals, especially those serving children, are overwhelmed, and parents who have to take their child to one of them might have long wait times, if they can get a bed at all.
TODAY.com previously reported that a mother waited 4 p.m. in an Oklahoma emergency room as her 4-year-old daughter struggled to breathe. NBC Washington spoke with a Maryland mother whose son waited a week for a bed in an intensive care unit.
NBC News tracks the percentage and number of pediatric hospital beds available by state this RSV season, to get an idea of where parents need to be most vigilant to protect children from respiratory illnesses. RSV and influenza are likely responsible for many hospitalizations, but other conditions also contribute.
As of November 24, about 30,000 of the country’s 40,000 pediatric hospital beds were available. Five states have a capacity of 90% or more. Currently, the most overwhelmed state is Maine at 109% capacity, followed by Arizona, Minnesota, Idaho and Rhode Island.
As flu and RSV season progresses, check back to see how full the pediatric hospital beds are in your state.
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