Worst cold, flu, COVID weather in decades coming home for Turkey Day, health officials say – St. George News

scheduled tribe. George- As people prepare turkey and pie for big family gatherings this coming week, another big gathering is happening in southern Utah: a gathering of germs.

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The local health department said this could be the start of an exceptionally dangerous illness season – not just cold and flu season, but a new reality of cold, flu and COVID season.

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

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

RSV has top billing right now, even though at worst it affects only the oldest and especially the youngest. The cold virus, which has no vaccine or cure, can cause severe bronchiolitis or pneumonia, which can result in hospitalization or even death in those groups, and is especially deadly for people under the age of 5.

For this reason, some young people in southern Utah are among those Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City has been kept at or near capacity for the past two weeks, While local hospitals are nowhere near the same status, check-ins are on the upswing.

“There are local hospitalizations due to RSV and influenza,” Heaton said.

Some local families have already adjusted their Thanksgiving plans with family and friends either feeling sick or testing positive for COVID. Health officials say that as bad as it may sound to eat too much on Thursday, getting sick due to carelessness can be just as bad.

“Our advice for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year… spread happiness not bugs. If you’re sick, stay away from it, there are plenty of other holidays. Do not expose other people. There’s always a vulnerable population” Heaton said, adding that one lesson of the pandemic was that the biggest superspreading events for COVID weren’t concerts or sporting events, they were 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 it seems this sickness season is looking dire. Few were wearing masks in the last two seasons, many were practicing physical distancing and washing their hands.

Since the worst of Covid was over with Jack Frost late last winter, southern Utah has largely returned to pre-pandemic conditions.

Heaton said that while Covid has made people more aware of disease prevention, that disease prevention can leave many people more susceptible.

“Some immune systems must be lower because they haven’t had the usual exposure,” Heaton said.

Speaking of COVID, as of Friday it looked like the virus that causes the disease was on the rise in Iron County, but not in St. George. At least that was from the amount of COVID found in the sewer water as measured by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

But new data released on Friday showed St George has picked up the pace. Iron County’s COVID level doubled two weeks ago and remains at that steady high, while Washington County did the same last week.

Iron County is at its highest level of COVID-19 detection since January, while Washington County hit its highest level in a week on Friday. blip end of june,

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

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But people in a household who have been exposed but are not positive or exhibiting symptoms can go ahead and drive through the Virgin River and Dixie National Forest wilderness to Grandma’s house. But Ujagar must still wear the mask to prevent Grandma from ending up in the hospital.

And it’s not from Grandpa’s stuffing effort.

“People with no symptoms do not need to quarantine, but should wear a mask in close quarters for 10 days after contact,” Heaton said, in keeping with the CDC’s guidelines.

The latest increase is coming from the latest evolution of the virus that causes COVID: the BQ.1 subvariant. Health officials from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, as well as national experts from the CDC, say that unlike when the Omicron variant supplanted the Delta variant, BQ has been slow to displace Omicron as the latest Covid vaccine. Booster repels Omicron. and BQ.

BQ is also showing that progress is continuing where COVID is becoming more contagious but less severe. The Utah Department of Health said there has been one COVID-related death in southern Utah thus far reported in November and four in October.

But even a mild bout with COVID can leave behind prolonged COVID symptoms Which with care can last at least a year.

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

“We’re hearing on the ground that some in the hospital are from children with COVID, up from influenza and RSV,” Heaton said. “High Rise in RSV and Flu.”

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