While there has been a focus on RSV and COVID-19 cases, the flu is also causing concern of a tripledemic as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 33 states have at least high levels of the flu as of the week ending November 19.
Through November 19, the flu has killed 2,900 people in the U.S. It has also caused 53,000 hospitalizations. The spike will likely cause the most active flu season since 2019-20 as social distancing largely curtailed influenza.
The CDC reports that New Mexico, Tennessee and Texas are reporting the highest levels of the flu.
Only 11 states reported minimal or low levels of the flu for the week ending Nov. 19.
It is not uncommon for flu cases to begin spiking this time of year, especially given that people are traveling for the holidays and participating in large indoor gatherings.
“When you now open up in society -- people now maybe are under-vaccinated, not everybody is wearing a mask,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, “we're trying to get back and are getting back to some degree of normality -- you almost have like a rebound effect of something that was very low for two seasons.
“If you look at the flu over the last couple of years, in the peak of the COVID back in 2020 and 2021, we were having the lowest flu seasons on record. So, it's not surprising that we're seeing it return back.”
Although flu cases are ramping up, officials say vaccines are still a good option, along with washing hands, disinfecting surfaces and avoiding those who are ill.
While 2020-21 and 2021-22 marked very low flu levels, 2019-20 was considered a more active year. The CDC reported a total of 25,000 flu-related deaths and 390,000 hospital visits.