by Tatiana Rodriguez ‘23
Since the Covid-19 Pandemic began to subside, many Americans stopped masking and taking other precautions towards Covid-19. The more Americans that are unmasking, the more are getting sick. Covid-19 is not the only threat; the flu and respiratory system virus (RSV) continue to spread and worsen.
Even with this increase in virus threats, the triple threat of viruses will continue to worsen during the upcoming holidays. With the holiday season already starting with Thanksgiving, there have been at least “13 million cases, 120,000 hospitalizations and 7,300 flu deaths, including 21 deaths among children.”
According to CNN, hospitalizations have increased by 14 percent each week which causes a lack of space for patient care. Along with this, care is taking longer as there is a staff shortage as staff get themselves sick from treating infected patients. These delays potentially are deadly as patients can go hours without care. Hospitals have tried to increase productivity by trying to find methods to predict patient volumes to have more staff readily available.
The flu and RSV have been around for a long time, but the spread of these viruses continues to worsen. People are more likely to catch these viruses right now because of an immunity gap caused by quarantine and masking up during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. RSV has had a 60-percent increase in cases since the 2021 peak week. Toddlers and infants are especially susceptible to these viruses since they have not been exposed to germs in the same way as everyone else. This is making people catch RSV at ages 4 or 5 opposed to when kids would usually catch it before the age of 2.
To healthy adults and teens, viruses do not seem like a big deal as symptoms are mild for the healthier population. Those who have mild symptoms are getting a lot of protection from the flu and Covid-19 vaccines but the vaccines have only been 40-percent effective for those with lower immune systems.
Even with the healthier population experiencing mild symptoms, younger children and teens miss a lot of school. With so many viruses spreading, students missing school are at an all-time high, and attendance continues to decrease. Many students are being marked as chronically absent meaning they miss at least 15 days of school in a year. Even though kids are missing more school, many are pushing themselves to return quicker and infect others.
Experts say that the best way to lower the spread of these viruses would be to resume masking up and keeping distance. These safety precautions and keeping up with vaccinations could help lower the spread of all viruses by 50 percent.