With winter upon us, so too is a wave of flu, COVID-19, and RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus), plaguing the southern region of Colorado. Health officials are calling it a “tripledemic,” warning that numbers of cases and hospitalizations will likely increase in the coming weeks.
According to Dr. Michael Roshon, an emergency physician at Penrose St. Francis, these three diseases hitting at once are a result of the earlier season – with possibilities for the disease’s spreading increased during October and November holidays and gatherings. “I think it’s likely that all three of these are probably going to increase. It’s just the nature of what happens when people travel and we when get people get together,” he said.
He also pointed out that RSV is impacting younger kids more severely, while COVID-19 continues to more severely impact older adults – with all age groups being impacted by the flu.
“We just hope that influenza doesn’t jump in the mix and start to really increase the stress on the hospitals,” said Dr. Roshon.
Children’s hospitals across the state are currently feeling the most strain from these diseases. Dr. Kevin Carney, associate chief medical officer, recently released a statement saying that Children’s Hospital of Colorado is experiencing a historic rise in patients due to respiratory illnesses – citing the “tripledemic” cocktail. While the hospital saw a dip on Thanksgiving day, those numbers rebounded over the weekend and through to the first week of December.
Penrose St. Francis has even started seeing patients 15 and 16 years old to help alleviate burdens placed on the pediatric hospitals. “So the other hospital systems have chipped in to help out. And so we’re taking more younger patients than we normally would typically,” said Dr. Roshon.
If you intend to travel or host over the holidays, Dr. Roshon is cautioning people to keep informed on impacts to your areas. He believes that this year many more people will be susceptible to getting infections, and expects this to remain the case through winter. He recommends keeping vaccinated – especially flu shots – as this will further help alleviate the burdens on the hospital systems.
If you are sick, officials encourage taking at-home COVID-19 tests, attending doctors appointments online, and avoiding crowded indoor settings – particularly emergency rooms or doctor’s offices. If you are only experiencing mild symptoms from any of these three diseases, rest assured that they will likely go away on their own after a few days.