The Centers for Disease Control on Monday encouraged people to wear masks to help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses this season as Covid, flu and RSV continue to spread at the same time.
CDC Director Dr. In a call with reporters, Rochelle Walensky said wearing a mask is one of the everyday precautions to take during the busy holiday season to reduce the chances of catching or spreading a respiratory virus.
“We encourage you to wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases,” Walensky said, adding that people living in areas with high rates of Covid-19 transmission should especially consider a mask.
The CDC director said the agency is considering expanding its system Covid social status Other respiratory viruses such as influenza should be taken into account. This system is the basis when the CDC advises the general public to wear masks. But Walensky encouraged people to take active action.
“There’s no need to wait for CDC action to put on a mask,” Walensky said. “We encourage all of those preventive measures — hand washing, staying home when you’re sick, wearing a mask, increasing ventilation — during the respiratory virus season, but especially in high-Covid-19 community settings.”
About 5% of the US population lives in counties where the CDC officially recommends masks due to high levels of Covid. The CDC continues to recommend wearing a mask for anyone traveling by plane, train, bus or other public transportation, Walensky said.
People with weakened immune systems and those at risk of serious illness should also consider wearing a mask, the CDC director said.
Walensky strongly encouraged everyone who is eligible to get their flu shot and Covid booster. Compared to last year, flu vaccine coverage for at-risk groups — children under 5, pregnant women and the elderly — has lagged, the CDC director said. There is no vaccine for RSV.
“I want to emphasize that the flu vaccine can save lives, and importantly, there is still time to get vaccinated against the flu and its serious consequences this season,” Walensky said.
The flu has arrived early and hit the US hard this time of year with the most hospitalizations in a decade. According to CDC data, more than 8.7 million people have gotten sick, 78,000 have been hospitalized and 4,500 have died from the flu this season. So far this season, 14 children have died of flu.
More than 19,000 people were hospitalized with the flu in the week ending Nov. 26, according to CDC data.
According to CDC data, hospitalizations for Covid-19 also increased by 27% in the week ending December 2. And respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is hospitalizing children at a higher rate than in previous years. Walensky said RSV has peaked in the Southeast and may level off in the Mid-Atlantic, although circulation of the virus remains high in much of the country.
“We are now facing another surge of disease. Another moment of overcapacity and a really tragic and often preventable death,” Walensky said, thanking health workers for their service. The covid pandemic has started.
Dr. Sandra Fryhofer, the American Medical Association’s panel chair, said the simultaneous outbreaks of Covid, flu and RSV were a “perfect storm for a terrible holiday season.” Freihofer said he understands that many people are tired of getting repeated Covid shots, but getting vaccinated is the best way to avoid getting sick during the holidays.
“You can get really sick this year and ruin your holiday celebrations if you don’t get vaccinated,” Freihofer said during Monday’s call.
The Children’s Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics asked the Biden administration last month Declare a public health emergency Response to surges in pediatric hospitalizations due to RSV and influenza.
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