Nearly 20,000 people in the United States were admitted to hospital with flu last week, nearly double the number of admissions from the previous week, according to data updated Friday by the Centers for Disease. United States Control and Prevention.
The CDC estimates that there have been at least 8.7 million illnesses, 78,000 hospitalizations and 4,500 deaths from the flu this season.
In a letter to the nation’s governors on Friday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra noted that influenza and other respiratory viruses are “increasing pressure” on the nation’s health systems.
In a letter obtained exclusively by CNN, Becerra wrote that the Biden administration “stands ready to continue to assist you with resources, supplies and personnel.”
Last month, children’s health officials requested a formal emergency declaration from the federal government to support hospitals and communities amid an “alarming increase in pediatric respiratory illnesses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV ) and the flu, as well as the ongoing children’s mental health emergency.”
The Biden administration has not declared a public emergency for RSV or influenza, but the Becerra letter outlines how the public health emergency declaration for Covid-19 can be applied to more broadly address the challenges posed by a confluence of Covid-19 and other respiratory and respiratory diseases. seasonal illnesses.
“The administration has exercised regulatory flexibilities to help health care providers and suppliers continue to respond to COVID-19. These flexibilities – while essential for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic – can also help address many of the challenges you face when spreading non-COVID-19 illnesses, including RSV and influenza” , indicates the letter. “They remain available to you and healthcare providers as you make all care available in response to influenza, RSV, COVID-19 and other illnesses.”
For example, if a hospital is experiencing staffing shortages that have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, it can use a waiver that would allow for increased surge capacity or easier patient transfers – even if patients need medical assistance. a treatment for something other than Covid-19, such as influenza or RSV.
The letter also highlights available funding, including $400 million from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prepare for and respond to public health threats each year, including influenza and other respiratory illnesses. such as the VRS, as well as data, analytics, and other planning resources. set up by the federal government. He also notes that the federal government monitors the supply chain of essential drugs and devices and that federal health officials over the past month have spoken with governors around the country at a meeting hosted by the National Governors Association. .
“As a federal partner, we stand ready to assess any request for federal medical assistance and support – including requests for medical personnel and equipment – working in close coordination with you and local jurisdictions to determine needs. and the availability of corresponding resources,” Becerra wrote. .
Influenza activity has been highest in the south, with hot spots stretching from El Paso to southwest Virginia. All but six states are experiencing “high” or “very high” respiratory virus levels, and seasonal influenza activity remains “high and continues to increase,” according to the CDC.
There have been nearly 17 flu hospitalizations per 100,000 people this season, rates typically seen in December or January. The cumulative hospitalization rate has not been this high at this point in the season for more than a decade.
The latest monitoring data likely doesn’t reflect the full effects of holiday gatherings, as it only captures through Nov. 26, two days after Thanksgiving.
As the flu continues to escalate, RSV has shown signs of slowing nationwide, but test positivity rates are still higher than they have been in years, and rates cumulative hospitalizations are about 10 times higher than the average at this stage of the season. Less than two months later, the RSV hospitalization rate this season is already close to the total RSV hospitalization rate for the entire 2018-19 season.
There is no vaccine for RSV, but health officials have urged people to get their flu shots and update Covid-19 reminders before winter. With the holiday season – and flu season – underway, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned this week of the potential for an emergency.
“When you have very little wiggle room for ICU beds, when you have like almost all ICU beds that are occupied, that’s bad for kids who have RSV and need intensive care. . But it also takes up all the beds, and children who have a number of other illnesses that require intensive care or intensive care, they don’t have the bed for that,” said Fauci, director of the Institute. National Allergy and Infectious Diseases. CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “So if you get to this situation, it’s approaching an emergency.”
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