RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Just about anywhere you go it seems people are sick right now.
Hospitals across the Triangle are seeing lots of respiratory illnesses, especially respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
Flu cases are on the rise, too, and some hospitals are seeing record numbers of children with RSV. Currently, COVID-19 numbers are pretty low, but if that changes this fall or winter, doctors could be dealing with what some call a “tripledemic” of illness.
Jessica Dixon, the infection prevention specialist for WakeMed Health and Hospitals, said the surge started at the end of August, and the numbers remain high.
“I looked back at some data from the pre-Covid years, and the most RSV cases I saw that we ever had a week was around 80,” Dixon said. “We have been running about 180 cases a week for the last several weeks.”
Now the flu is making people sick too.
“Two weeks ago, we had 130 [flu cases]. This week we had 246,” Dixon said.
Furthermore, UNC Health’s Dr. David Weber also said there has been an increase in viruses.
“We are early in the year for this much influenza,” Dr. Weber said.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 levels across central North Carolina are low right now, but cases are rising in parts of Europe.
“Often, they’re a harbinger of what we’ll see 3-4 weeks later,” Weber said.
While doctors can’t predict exactly what will happen with COVID-19 in the U.S., they say they’re prepared to deal with even more cases of respiratory viruses in the coming weeks and months.
“It would not be surprising to see some increase in COVID, although I don’t think we could predict a massive surge unless we have a totally new viral subtype – along with a substantial number of increased cases in other viral respiratory pathogens at the same time,” Weber said, who noted people can be infected with multiple viruses at the same time.
If necessary, hospitals can put plans in place to deal with an influx of patients.
“There are meetings every week with our leadership and our clinical leaders trying to make sure we have the resources to take care of the patients that are here and the patients that will be coming, so we’ll just continue with that model,” Dixon said.
Weber added that changes can be made based on the populations most affected.
“We could shift units around, if the focus is more on pediatric cases. Potentially we could shift some of our adult units to be pediatric units,” he said. “There is flexibility within the health care system.”
Both Dixon and Weber urged people to get their flu shot and COVID-19 booster.
“There’s a lot to worry about, but we’ll take it as it comes,” Dixon said. “That’s what we’ve learned from this pandemic.”