How to Stay Safe From the Tripledemic This Holiday Season
December 14, 2022 – This time last year the hunt was on for at-home COVID-19 testing kits, which for many have become the golden ticket to attending holiday gatherings. A triple pandemic is raging this year, with threats from COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
With viruses circulating, medical experts recommend doing your own risk assessment based on your vacation plans and who will be affected.
“Everyone is obviously willing to do as much as they can of what they’ve been doing during normal vacation times, especially since many of us gave it up for a few years,” said Dr. Henry Wu, epidemiologist and healthy travel expert at Emory University NPR. “We are entering a new normal where we must navigate how best to do what we want to do.”
As people consider their risk of illness ahead of the holidays, experts are asking:
- How willing am I to get sick?
- What are the risks for other guests who will be attending the gathering? Are they elderly, an infant, or someone who is immunocompromised, putting them at high risk of becoming dangerously ill?
- Do I have priority to see certain people or attend certain events?
Limiting the number of gatherings or travel is a way to manage risk, as is testing for COVID-19 in advance, Wu said.
“Every family and every individual will be a little different,” he said. “If you want to do as much as possible to avoid getting sick when you meet, if you want to protect the vulnerable person, whether they’re elderly or a toddler, then by all means, take some of the lessons from the last few years.”
The data shows that the triple pandemic is in full swing. Among the people being tested for that flu1 in 4 are positive and nearly 26,000 are hospitalized weekly.
There are positive signs on the RSV front. Weekly RSV case counts have fallen by more than half over the past week, according to the CDC Data.
Nationwide, almost 80% of hospital beds are occupied, a federal tracker shows. Of that, 6% is used for COVID-19, a drastic change from the last two years when coronavirus was the sole topic of holiday health talks.
Still, health officials say COVID-19 shouldn’t be underestimated. Case numbers, deaths, and hospitalizations spike after Thanksgiving.
Watch out for a sore throat
Newly released data now shows that the most commonly reported COVID-19 symptom is a sore throat. Once a telltale sign of COVID, the loss of taste has completely fallen away List of the 10 most common reported symptoms, while the loss of smell has fallen to tenth place. Fever is also significantly absent from the results published by the UK’s Zoe Health Studyan app-based crowdsourced symptom tracker.
Study authors say the change in common symptoms is due to the emergence of new virus variants.
Here are the most commonly reported COVID-19 symptoms, ranked by frequency in the month ending December 5:
- Sore throat
- A runny nose
- A stuffy nose
- A cough without phlegm
- A cough with phlegm
- A hoarse voice
- muscle aches and pains
- An altered sense of smell
That’s what the CDC says Covid-19 symptoms appear 2 to 14 days after exposure. People with symptoms should get tested for COVID-19. The agency also warns that some COVID-19 symptoms are identical to flu symptoms, and it’s best to speak to a healthcare provider to get tested for both viruses.