TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Health experts are warning local families to stay safe as they gather this holiday season amid a “tripledemic” of the flu, COVID-19 and RSV.
Last week, health officials reported nine flu-related pediatric deaths. That’s almost a third of the total deaths that have been reported this flu season.
The Department of Health and Human Services says 78% of inpatient beds are full across the country. In total, 150,000 people have been hospitalized.
Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a Distinguished Health Professor at USF’s College of Public Health, says vaccines are the best line of defense against these viruses. He recommends people get tested for respiratory illnesses before they gather with their families for the holidays. He says it wouldn’t be a bad idea to wear a mask, and you should continue to wash your hands like many would in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unnasch believes the increase in cases is due to people not washing their hands as often or following other protocols that were put in place at the beginning of the pandemic to slow the spread of viruses.
“In 2019 The CDC reported around 300,000 cases across the country of influenza that number dropped by 99% in 2020,” Unnasch said.