Watch CBS News

Health officials are monitoring a triple threat of respiratory illnesses. Here's how to avoid getting sick

Respiratory viruses rise across the U.S.
New year kicks off with a rise in respiratory virus infections and hospitalizations 02:54

As the new year gets underway, health officials are issuing a nationwide alert about a triple threat: The simultaneous spread of the flu, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting a significant rise in emergency room visits due to flu and COVID-19, while RSV infections continue to pose a serious risk — particularly to infants and the elderly.

Dr. Celine Gounder, a CBS News medical contributor and KFF Health News editor-at-large for public health, said that the U.S. is seeing a flu spike and a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations. 

"We've had 10,000  people across the U.S. die from COVID since November, so this is definitely not gone," said Gounder.

With symptoms often overlapping, Gounder said it was important to test to differentiate between the viruses. She also advocated for vaccination and the use of masks, such as N95s, as effective prevention strategies.

"They will not necessarily prevent all infections, but they will prevent you from getting really sick. Especially if you're somebody who doesn't want to miss time at work or at school," said Gounder.

Comparing the current situation to previous years, Gounder said that this season is better than the last couple since the pandemic started.

"Even before the pandemic bad flu season could really crush the hospital. In terms of the number of patients coming in. And so now you have a whole new virus on top of what we were seeing before. And so there's really not a lot of bandwidth to take on more patients if people get sick," said Gounder. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.