Health officials provided a community update at the county and state level on the current increase in respiratory illnesses, including influenza, RSV and COVID-19, and encouraged residents to take extra precautions in the months ahead.
During a virtual public update on Tuesday, November 15, Larimer County Public Health Director Tom Gonzales said that Colorado Governor Jared Polis amended the existing COVID-19 disaster declaration to include RSV, influenza and other respiratory illnesses. And signed an executive order to expand. Helping counties continue to provide access to state and federal funding for recovery efforts and to support the health care system.
Gonzalez said that during the COVID-19 pandemic health officials “promised the community that they would alert them when an illness was outgrowing the capacity of our Larimer County hospitals,” adding, “We currently have COVID- 19, RSV and influenza hospitalizations are on the rise and we are asking residents to take action to prevent the spread of these diseases in the community.”
Regional epidemiologist Matt Bower also told during the update that a significant increase in the number of respiratory illnesses is being reported. Bower said the LCDHE was actively monitoring 30 reports of outbreaks or increased respiratory activity in community settings. 91% of outbreaks were in childcare or school settings, 45% were RSV only, 15% were influenza only, 5% were COVID-19 only with 15% having multiple illnesses. Bower said the dramatic number of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases in children is an anomaly and that currently most pediatric hospitalizations are due to this virus and the flu.
Larimer County Medical Officer Paul Mayer said during the meeting that “If you do get sick, we really want you to call your medical provider for guidance. ERs and urgent care are really becoming overwhelmed at the moment.” , so your first point of contact should be your primary care provider.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said during a press conference Monday that the positivity rate for RSV is approaching 25%, with no signs of slowing. CDPHE said that as of October 1, there have been 164 hospitalizations statewide for influenza and 895 for RSV in the five-county Denver metro area. Influenza hospitalizations have primarily affected adults, whereas the majority of RSV hospitalizations, 93%, are among the pediatric population.
According to the CDC RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, Most people recover within a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lungs) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children under the age of 1 in the United States. Symptoms of the virus include runny nose, fever, sneezing, cough, loss of appetite and poor feeding.
According to information provided by the Cleveland Clinic RSV previously followed a predictable timeline: As the calendar flipped to the fall and winter months, most of the United States’ healthcare providers were presented with the telltale wheezing of a respiratory virus. People will start watching. That changed in 2020, when RSV almost completely disappeared as COVID-19 restrictions kept people masked or at home. But when the ban was lifted in 2021 and people started going outside more, RSV came back this year with summer outbreaks and continued into the fall and winter.
Due to the high number of pediatric hospitalizations, CDPHE is coordinating with hospitals across the state to utilize all available pediatric ICU beds, and is conducting outreach with K-12 schools, preschools and daycare centers. to ensure they have information on resources and mitigation strategies for RSV. other infectious diseases.
Additionally, Colorado currently has a 12.38% positivity rate for COVID. Larimer County had a 12% positivity rate on Monday and is currently considered a moderate risk at the community level, with six hospitalized.
Health officials recommend the following to help prevent the spread of infection: stay home if you are sick, get tested for COVID, get vaccinated against the flu and COVID, if you test positive for COVID, So seek treatment, practice good hand hygiene, and improve ventilation. If possible, open windows and doors in your home and workplace.