Health officials say worst cold, flu and COVID season in decades returns home for Turkey Day – St. George News

Street. George – As people prepare turkey and pancakes for next week’s big family gatherings, there’s another big gathering in southern Utah: germs gathering.

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It could be just the beginning of an unusually vicious disease season, the local health department said — one that is not only marked by cold and flu season but a new reality of cold, flu and COVID season.

“It’s worse than usual,” said David Heaton, a spokesman for the Southwestern Utah Department of Public Health. “It looks like it could be one of the worst cold and flu seasons in decades. COVID has joined the cold and flu season as part of that landscape.”

On the first Thanksgiving post-COVID-19 pandemic, the currently endemic SARS-CoV-2 shares the disease marquee with two other diseases: respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza.

RSV currently has top billing, although at worst it only affects the oldest, and especially the youngest. The cold virus, for which there is no vaccine or cure, can cause acute bronchiolitis or pneumonia, leading to hospitalization or even death in those groups, and is particularly deadly for those under the age of five.

For this reason, some of the youngest residents of southern Utah are among those who The primary children’s hospital in Salt Lake City has been at or near capacity for the past two weeks. While local hospitals are nowhere near as positioned, check-ins are on the rise.

“Local hospitalizations have gone up for respiratory syncytial virus and influenza,” Heaton said.

Some local families have already adjusted their Thanksgiving plans with family and friends either feeling sick or contracting COVID. As bad as it may feel from eating so much Thursday, health officials say the illness from neglect could be worse.

“Our advice for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year…spread joy, not bugs. If you’re sick, sit like this, there are plenty of other holidays. Don’t expose others. There’s always a vulnerable demographic,” Heaton said, adding that the lesson was One part of the pandemic is that the biggest widespread COVID events weren’t concerts or sporting events, but rather family gatherings like Thanksgiving.” With COVID, people were getting sick at close family gatherings.”

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COVID also has something to do with why this illness season seems so bleak. The last two seasons have had some masks on, as many have practiced physical distancing and washed their hands.

Since the worst of COVID came out with Jack Frost at the end of last winter, Southern Utah has largely returned to its pre-pandemic phase.

Heaton said that while COVID has made people more aware of how to avoid the disease, avoiding the disease may have left many more vulnerable to it.

“Some immune systems may be lower than they should be, because they haven’t had the natural exposure,” Heaton said.

Speaking of COVID, it appeared as of Friday that the virus causing the disease was on the rise in Iron County but not in St. George. At least that was from the amount of COVID detected in wastewater that was measured by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

But new data released on Friday showed St. George’s had caught up. COVID levels in Iron County doubled two weeks ago and have held at that steady high, while Washington County did the same last week.

Iron County is at its largest level of COVID-19 detection since January, while Washington County on Friday had its highest level in one week. It erupts in late June.

As far as Thanksgiving is concerned, the current recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in southern Utah remains at the low community level is for people who have had symptoms and/or tested positive within the past five days to stay home.

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But those who have been infected but not positive or showing symptoms can go ahead and drive up the Virgin River and through the woods of Dixie National Forest to get to Grandma’s house. But the exposed person must wear a mask to prevent the grandmother from entering the hospital.

This is not a serious attempt at tautology.

“Exposed people who do not have symptoms do not need to be quarantined, but they should wear masks in close quarters for up to 10 days after exposure,” Heaton said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance.

The latest increase comes from the latest evolution of the virus that causes COVID: variant BQ.1. Unlike when the omicron variant took over the delta variant, health officials with the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, as well as national experts at the CDC say, BQ is at a slower pace displacing omicron mainly because the latest COVID-19 booster vaccine repels Omicron and BQ.

BQ also shows that progress is continuing as COVID becomes more contagious but less severe. The Utah Department of Health said there was one COVID-related death in southern Utah reported so far in November and there were four deaths in October.

But even a mild bout of COVID can be left behind prolonged COVID symptoms They can last, with care, for at least a year.

Despite that, Heaton said the story in local hospitals right now is not COVID. But experts say the advice for COVID is also good advice if someone is sick with any other infectious disease: stay home.

“What we’re hearing on the ground is that hospitalizations after influenza and RSV are children with some COVID,” Heaton said. “More Rise in RSV and Influenza.”

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