A mix of winter viruses is causing a spike in illness, according to The Washington Post (subscription).
What’s happening: A combination of booming respiratory viruses and climbing COVID-19 cases threatens to overwhelm hospitals and health care workers.
- “Parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial virus, rhinovirus, adenovirus, influenza A and influenza B. Respiratory enterovirus and human metapneumovirus, too. And then, there’s the rebounding coronavirus.”
- “The seven-day average of new daily [COVID-19] cases is above 66,000, with hospitalizations above 40,000, the highest those numbers have been since mid-September and late August, respectively.”
The impact: Nearly every state in the U.S. was experiencing a high level of respiratory illnesses as of last week. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rates of illness are likely to rise further in the coming weeks.
Medical mysteries: One concerning factor is the apparent increase in the number of co-infections or instances in which a patient is experiencing multiple different illnesses at once.
- Co-infections with common winter viruses are thought to be uncommon, and it’s not yet clear if the increase represents a temporary aberration or a long-term change in the way these viruses operate.
In related news: The Biden administration will offer free at-home COVID-19 tests to all U.S. households this winter. Each household can request up to four rapid tests through covidtests.gov.