As Boston hospitals face an influx of flu and RSV patients, local health officials are urging residents to take precautions against COVID and other respiratory illnesses as they gather for Thanksgiving this week.
The region — and much of the US — has seen a rise in respiratory illnesses in infants and children, leading to a rise in hospitalizations for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Meanwhile, flu cases and hospitalizations are rising across Massachusetts, with the state reporting “moderate” influenza severity.
A spike in COVID cases could put even more pressure on the local health system, prompting the Boston Public Health Commission to urge residents to be mindful of COVID and other respiratory illnesses when celebrating Thanksgiving.
“With so many people traveling and spending time with family, we can reduce the risk of transmission of respiratory diseases like COVID-19, flu and RSV,” said Bisola Ojikutu, public health commissioner and executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission.
“Staying up to date on COVID-19 immunizations, getting vaccinated against the flu, wearing a well-fitting mask when traveling, and testing for COVID-19 before collecting are important ways to keep yourself and your family and Protecting friends during this holiday season,” Ojikutu added.
The concentration of the COVID virus in local sewage is now 404 RNA copies per milliliter, up 3.3% over the past week and up 17.5% over the past 14 days.
Meanwhile, the total number of new seven-day COVID hospitalizations rose 44.1% over the past week.
The Boston Public Health Commission encourages residents to test for COVID before collecting, stay at home if sick or test positive for COVID, wear masks indoors and when traveling for extra protection, keep windows open to encourage proper air filtration, and to spend as much time outdoors as possible.
Proper hygiene practices such as washing hands frequently, disinfecting shared surfaces regularly, and covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing are also effective in reducing the spread of COVID, RSV, and the flu.
People scheduling a PCR test must do so by Tuesday to ensure they can get their results back in time.
In the State Department of Public Health’s most recent flu report, the state said 32.78% of Massachusetts residents have received a flu shot this season. In the past week, 0.27% of state hospitalizations were associated with influenza.