Three viruses in Delaware are doing what viruses do: going viral.
The third winter with COVID-19 is approaching. Cases began to spike around this time of year in 2020 and 2021 as people started to spend more time indoors and gather for parties and family celebrations such as Thanksgiving. That means more people will be traveling.
State officials during a virtual news conference Monday said they are hoping to get more people up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, as well as flu shots. Influenza cases began to spike in Delaware in late October after two relatively mild years as more people were isolating.
We now also have the spread of RSV.
Governor John Carney Monday urged Delawareans to stay home if they are sick, wash hands frequently and take other prevention measures with which we have become familiar during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as during previous cold- and flu- seasons.
"Be very thoughtful about the risk in various venues with respect to whether you should wear a mask or not," Carney said.
"A lot of people in this state and across the country are immune-compromised and really need to continue to wear the mask for their safety," Delaware Health and Social Services Secretary Molly Magarik added.
As of Monday, new cases of coronavirus were at a seven-day moving average of 131. 86 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 complications. Carney said hospitalizations now provide a more accurate reading of coronavirus because at-home testing has taken off and full results may not be reported.
Nearly 800 influenza cases had also been lab-confirmed in Delaware as of early November. 505 cases of RSV had been documented.
"If we can keep our flu numbers down, keep our COVID numbers down, do those protective measures, we're protecting hospital capacity," Carney said.
Magarik pointed out that many Delawareans are eligible for the bivalent COVID-19 vaccination, and that the flu shot can still be beneficial although the influenza season is underway.
"They (the vaccines) reduce the likelihood that someone is going to get severely ill and potentially end up hospitalized and potentially, God forbid, eliminate the possibility or greatly reduce the possibility that they could end up passing away," Magarik said.
There is currently no vaccine available for RSV. Christiana Care Associate Clinical Director, Complex Primary Care and Community Medicine Dr. Priscilla Mpasi said cases are most common among children as well as people 65 years of age or older.
Mpasi said it would be helpful for Delaware families to anticipate the likelihood that a virus would enter their household, and prevention measures could keep it from spreading. RSV symptoms can be similar to those of flu, colds or COVID-19. In serious cases, a person's breathing - especially that of a young child - may become labored and it may be important to seek prompt medical attention.
Fever is also a key indicator.
"The likelihood is the higher the fever and the more days your child has the fever, there's a greater severity of illness," Mpasi said.
DHSS, Beebe Healthcare and Nemours will host a Facebook Live event Tuesday, November 15th at 6:00 p.m. about respiratory illnesses.