CHICAGO — Health officials in Chicago and the surrounding areas say they are already seeing an influx of COVID-19, RSV and flu cases ahead of Thanksgiving.
They are worried the combination will cause a triple threat of respiratory infections.
“I love the holiday, but viruses love the holidays too,” Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said. “They love it when it’s cold weather, when we’re all indoors and gathering and when we’re traveling.”
Arwady said RSV is already hitting the healthcare system “hard.”
Capacity is also tight at children’s hospitals with kids having trouble breathing.
“Our ERs are full. Our pediatric unit is full,” Dr. Shilpa Singh, a pediatrics specialist at St. Anthony Hospital, said. “This is not Chicago, Illinois, it’s going on throughout the country. Children under two are particularly prone to get RSV.”
Health officials believe this is happening because people are no longer protecting themselves by social distancing or wearing masks.
In an effort to reduce the spread of the illnesses going around, all Advocate Aurora Health facilities are now limiting visitors and requiring masks, regardless of vaccination status.
Arwady predicts viruses will likely spread during Thanksgiving, but said staying up to date on seasonal vaccines and taking COVID medications, like Paxlovid, will help minimize the changes.