CDC encourages individuals to put on masks to stop unfold of Covid, flu, RSV

Folks stroll exterior carrying masks throughout the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) pandemic within the Harlem space of the Manhattan borough of New York Metropolis, New York, February 10, 2022.

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

The Facilities for Illness Management Prevention on Monday inspired individuals to put on masks to assist cut back the unfold of respiratory diseases this season as Covid, flu and RSV flow into on the identical time.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in a name with reporters, mentioned carrying a masks is considered one of a number of on a regular basis precautions that folks can take to cut back their probabilities of catching or spreading a respiratory virus throughout the busy vacation season.

“We additionally encourage you to put on a high-quality, well-fitting masks to stop the unfold of respiratory diseases,” mentioned Walensky, including that folks dwelling in areas with excessive ranges of Covid transmission ought to particularly contemplate masking.

The CDC director mentioned the company is contemplating increasing its system of Covid neighborhood ranges to take note of different respiratory viruses such because the flu. The system is the premise for when CDC advises the general public to put on masks. However Walensky inspired individuals to take proactive motion.

“One needn’t wait on CDC motion as a way to put a masks on,” Walensky mentioned. “We’d encourage all of these preventive measures — hand washing, staying residence whenever you’re sick, masking, elevated air flow — throughout respiratory virus season, however particularly in areas of excessive Covid-19 neighborhood ranges.”

CDC encourages individuals to put on masks to stop unfold of Covid, flu, RSV

About 5% of the U.S. inhabitants lives in counties the place the CDC is formally recommending masks attributable to excessive Covid ranges. The CDC continues to advocate masking for anybody travelling by aircraft, prepare, bus or different types of public transportation, Walensky mentioned.

Folks with weak immune programs and those that in any other case face a heightened danger of extreme illness must also contemplate carrying a masks, the CDC director mentioned.

Walensky strongly inspired everybody eligible to obtain their flu shot and Covid booster. Flu vaccination protection is lagging for at-risk teams — kids beneath age 5, pregnant girls, and at-risk seniors — in contrast with final yr, the CDC director mentioned. There is no such thing as a vaccine for RSV.

“I need to emphasize that the flu vaccine might be life saving and importantly, there’s nonetheless time to get vaccinated to be protected in opposition to flu this season and its potential severe penalties,” Walensky mentioned.

The flu has arrived early and hit the U.S. arduous with hospitalizations at a decade excessive for this time of yr. Greater than 8.7 million individuals have fallen ailing, 78,000 have been hospitalized, and 4,500 individuals have died from the flu this season, in keeping with CDC information. Fourteen kids have died from the flu thus far this season.

Greater than 19,000 individuals have been hospitalized with the flu throughout the week ending Nov. 26, almost double the earlier week, in keeping with CDC information.

Folks hospitalized with Covid additionally elevated 27% throughout the week ending Dec. 2, in keeping with CDC information. And respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, has been hospitalizing kids at greater fee than in earlier years. Walensky mentioned RSV seems to have peaked within the Southeast and could also be leveling off within the Mid-Atlantic, New England and Midwest although circulation of the virus stays excessive in a lot of the nation.

“We now face one more surge of sickness. One other second of overstretched capability and actually considered one of tragic and sometimes preventable disappointment,” Walensky mentioned, as she thanked health-care employees for his or her service throughout the repeated surges of sickness they’ve confronted because the Covid pandemic started.

Dr. Sandra Fryhofer, board chair of the American Medical Affiliation, mentioned the circulation of Covid, flu and RSV on the identical is a “an ideal storm for a horrible vacation season.” Fryhofer mentioned she understands many individuals are bored with receiving repeated Covid pictures, however getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to avoiding falling ailing over the vacations.

“You possibly can get actually, actually sick this yr and break your vacation celebrations if you aren’t getting vaccinated,” Fryhofer mentioned throughout Monday’s name.

The Youngsters’s Hospital Affiliation and the American Academy of Pediatrics final month requested the Biden administration to declare a public well being emergency in response to the surge of pediatric hospitalizations from RSV and the flu.

Correction: Dr. Walensky mentioned this season is “one other second of overstretched capability and actually considered one of tragic and sometimes preventable disappointment.” This story has been up to date to correctly replicate the quote.

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