A Tripledemic?


Nathaniel Jasper, Contributor

The country may be moving out of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it may be going into another epidemic that could cause mayhem in healthcare centers. 

Doctors, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers are worried that two viruses that were mostly absent during the COVID surge, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the flu, along with COVID could severely overload hospitals across the country and overwhelm many healthcare workers. On NPR, DR. Tina Tan, a disease specialist at Northwestern University, said the three viruses “are really going to put a strain on the hospital systems, where the systems in some places are just completely overwhelmed.” 

According to the CDC, in the week of November 23, there were 305,082 in the US. It is far less than in the middle of January, but a slight uptick from October. The influenza virus has seen a huge resurgence this year. Despite not being the flu season, preliminary CDC statistics say that about 6,200,000-14,000,000 people have been infected, and about 53,000 – 110,000 people have already been hospitalized, compared to 9 million infections and 10,000 hospitalizations during the last flu season. According to the RSV-NET interactive dashboard, the RSV virus has been associated with approximately  22.4 per 100,000 hospitalizations. The overall increase in flu, COVID, and RSV infections and hospitalizations has stretched the nursing staff thin. “In the emergency room, it’s usually 4:1 or 5:1, and we’re working with ratios in 8:1… 6:1,” says traveling nurse Grover Nicodemus Street.  

 Nurses and doctors are urging American citizens to stay up to date on their vaccines to combat this issue. “Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate,” says Street. “If it can help you 30% from getting the flu, it’s better than nothing.” Stein agrees with Street and offers other tips: “People should dust off their old COVID habits. Stay home if they’re sick, open windows as much as possible, and even put those masks back on, especially around babies and other vulnerable family and friends.”