On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged individuals to wear masks to help prevent the spread of respiratory ailments such as Covid, influenza, and RSV.
As per CNBC, in a call with reporters, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that wearing a mask is one of several routine steps people can take to lower their risk of contracting or spreading a respiratory virus during the busy holiday season.
“We also recommend you to wear a good-quality, well-fitting mask to minimize the spread of respiratory infections,” Walensky said, adding that residents of locations with high levels of Covid transmission should consider masking in particular.
The head of the CDC stated that the organization is considering expanding its system of Covid community levels to include other respiratory viruses such as influenza. The system determines when the CDC encourages the general public to use masks. However, Walensky urged individuals to take initiative.
Walensky stated, “One need not await CDC action in order to wear a mask.” “We would urge all of these preventative actions — hand washing, staying at home when unwell, using a mask, and increasing ventilation — throughout respiratory virus season, but particularly in places with high Covid-19 population levels.”
Approximately 5% of the U.S. population resides in counties where masks are recommended by the CDC owing to elevated Covid levels. Walensky stated that the CDC continues to urge masks used for those traveling by plane, train, bus, or other types of public transportation.
The head of the CDC stated that people with compromised immune systems and those who face an elevated risk of serious disease should also consider wearing a mask.
Walensky urged all eligible individuals to receive their flu shot and Covid booster. The head of the CDC stated that the vaccination rate for high-risk populations, including children under 5 years of age, pregnant women, and high-risk elders, is lower than it was last year. There is no RSV vaccination.
“I want to underline that the flu vaccination can save lives, and more significantly, there is still time to get vaccinated in order to be protected against the flu this season and its potentially severe effects,” Walensky said.
The flu has arrived early and ravaged the United States, with hospitalizations for this time of year reaching a 10-year high. According to CDC figures, 8.7 million individuals have been ill, 78,000 have been hospitalized, and 4,500 have died from the flu this season. This season, fourteen children have perished from the flu.
According to CDC data, nearly twice as many patients were hospitalized with influenza during the week ending November 26 than the week prior.
According to CDC data, the number of people hospitalized with Covid jumped by 27% for the week ending December 2. RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, has been hospitalizing children at a higher rate than in prior years. Walensky stated that RSV looks to have peaked in the Southeast and may be leveling down in the Mid-Atlantic, despite the fact that the virus continues to circulate widely throughout the country.
“We are now facing another outbreak of disease.” Walensky congratulated health-care professionals for their service amid the recurrent waves of disease they have met since the start of the Covid pandemic, describing each instance as “another moment of overstretched capacity and a truly awful and frequently preventable death.”
Dr. Sandra Fryhofer, chair of the American Medical Association’s board of directors, described the simultaneous spread of Covid, influenza, and RSV as “the perfect storm for a disastrous holiday season.” Fryhofer acknowledged that many individuals are tired of receiving frequent Covid shots but getting vaccinated is the greatest way to avoid becoming unwell during the Christmas season.
Fryhofer stated on Monday’s call, “If you don’t get vaccinated this year, you could become quite ill and disrupt your Christmas celebrations.” The Children’s Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics petitioned the Biden administration last month to declare a public health emergency in response to the increase in pediatric hospitalizations caused by RSV and influenza.