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'Tripledemic' expected to increase hospitalizations in Southern Colorado

Health officials are anticipating an increase in hospitalizations due to a rise in RSV, COVID-19, and flu cases
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Posted at 8:42 PM, Dec 02, 2022

COLORADO SPRINGS — A wave of flu, COVID-19, and RSV cases are hitting Southern Colorado right now. Health officials are calling it a "tripledemic,” and they believe numbers of cases and hospitalizations will increase in the upcoming weeks.

Dr. Michael Roshon is an emergency physician at Penrose St. Francis. He says right now, these three respiratory viruses are hitting all at once, and spreading earlier in the season. Typically respiratory virus season starts in October or November.

“I think it's likely that all three of these are probably going to increase. It's just the nature of what happens when people travel and we when get people get together,” said Dr. Roshon.

He also mentioned RSV is impacting younger kids more severely, and COVID is impacting more older adults, but all ages of people are getting the flu.

“We just hope that influenza doesn't jump in the mix and start to really increase the stress on the hospitals,” said Dr. Roshon.

Right now, the strain is more so being felt at children’s hospitals across the state. In a statement from Dr. Kevin Carney, associate chief medical officer, he says Children's Hospital Colorado is seeing a historic rise in patients due to respiratory illnesses including RSV, flu and COVID.

The children’s hospital also saw a dip on Thanksgiving day, but saw a rebound over the weekend and through this week.

Meanwhile, Penrose St. Francis has recently started seeing patients 15 and 16 years old to help alleviate some of the strain on pediatric hospitals.

“So the other hospital systems have chipped in to help out. And so we're taking more younger patients than we normally would typically,” said Dr. Roshon.

He also mentioned they should know more about the impacts of gatherings during Thanksgiving in the next week.

In El Paso County, there's been a slight decrease in COVID cases, while flu and RSV cases are increasing. Currently, 31 people are hospitalized with the flu in El Paso County. In the last 14 days, 58 people have been hospitalized for COVID.

Dr. Roshon also mentioned during the pandemic, flu cases and RSV cases were really low because more people were taking extra precautions like washing their hands and wearing their masks. He believes more people are susceptible to getting an infection, and they expect to see that all winter.

He also hopes high COVID-19 vaccination rates and people getting their flu shot, will help alleviate the strain on hospital systems too.

If you’re sick, health officials are encouraging you to try other testing options, like taking an at-home COVID-19 test. It’s also recommended to attend virtual doctors appointments or appointments online if you can, which means avoiding crowded emergency rooms or doctor’s offices. In mild cases, symptoms from any of these viruses will go away on their own in a few days.

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