Winter Diseases – The New York Times

Covid no longer plays the dominant role it used to play in most of our lives. But the risk of Covid – and other viruses – remains. This winter, experts expect a renewed surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths from viral diseases.

The rise may have already begun. Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths have risen over the past two weeks. The upswing is similar to the trend we’ve seen in recent years after Thanksgiving, typically continuing through the holiday season and into the following year. (Check case counts in your area with The Times tracker.)

Influenza cases are also increasing. The CDC classified The vast majority of states have “high” or “very high” activity for influenza and related diseases. “Hospitalizations for flu remain the highest we’ve seen at this time of year in a decade,” agency director Rochelle Walensky said last week.

Cases and hospitalizations of RSV, but sometimes causing cold symptoms can be more serious, also peaked earlier this fall. But they seem to have already peak.

The infectious disease climate in the US is not currently a picture of Covid going away, but rather in the fall and winter alongside other endemic respiratory diseases. In a few years, Covid could be the worst of them all. In others it could be the flu or RSV. “This is the reality we will live with in the future,” said Dr. Celine Gounder, Senior Fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Today’s newsletter looks at this new normal for Covid and other viruses.

By now, the fall and winter disease trends may seem familiar: when people gather for the holidays, and generally congregate indoors to escape the cold, respiratory viruses spread more easily — that’s true of Covid, but so is the flu and RSV

The greatest risks are for the very old and the very young.

Covid is still a threat, in large part because many people don’t have immunity to vaccines or infections lately. But the virus is now largely a disease of older adults, as David Wallace-Wells explained in the Times Opinion: Americans aged 65 and older are now responsible for 90 percent of deaths. (Some younger groups, particularly the immunocompromised, also remain vulnerable.)

RSV and influenza often affect an additional population, hitting both the very young and the old hardest.

Flu and RSV have been around for a long time. They have been tame in recent years, largely because widespread Covid prevention measures, such as masking and social distancing, also worked against them. But since many people haven’t had recent exposure to the flu or RSV, they’re also more susceptible. This has allowed both viruses to make a comeback.

“The combination of flu and Covid for the elderly is going to mean a pretty tough winter for hospitals,” Gounder said. “People talk about patients in the hallway – that was actually not uncommon before Covid. We’ll see more of that.”

By now you probably know how to reduce your risk of Covid: Get vaccinated and refreshed. If the virus is spreading quickly, mask yourself indoors and get tested regularly. If you do get sick, isolate yourself to avoid spreading the virus and try to get a prescription for Paxlovid to reduce your risk of hospitalization or worse.

“It’s all the obvious things,” Gounder said. “It’s really a question of whether people want to do them or not.”

Similar advice applies to the other two viruses as they spread in similar ways. You can get an annual flu shot along with a Covid booster at your local pharmacy. There is no vaccine for RSV, although some are in development.

The spread of the virus paints a mixed picture. The bad news is that the three pathogens will likely be a regular part of our lives, especially during the fall and winter. The good news is that we are not completely helpless in the face of them.


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The Times Styles section has a wide scope. Of course it’s about fashion, but also about culture, gender, social change, the weird corners of the internet and everything else that otherwise doesn’t fit in a newspaper. With that in mind, the writers and editors at Styles have chosen their 93 most stylish “people” of 2022.

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