Emergency-room visits for respiratory illness in Kentucky went up for the sixth week in a row, as hospitalizations saw a slight dip

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

As we head into the full swing of the holiday season and people start to gather indoors to celebrate while taking fewer precautions to protect themselves, respiratory viruses such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and Covid-19 are expected to surge.

The state Department for Public Health‘s weekly respiratory illness report shows that in the week ended Nov. 12, emergency-department visits for respiratory illnesses in Kentucky increased again, to 3,160. The weekly rise was the sixth in a row.

The breakdown of cases was 1,336 influenza, up from 1,209 the prior week; 669 were for RSV, up from 534; and 1,155 for Covid-19, down from 1,209.

Among Kentucky children, ED visits for respiratory illness also increased again, to 1,534, and Covid-19 cases rose to 194 from 172 the week before. Flu cases in children totaled 765, up from 694 the prior week, and 575 were for RSV, up from 475.

Hospitalizations for respiratory illness in Kentucky dropped a bit in the week ended Nov. 12, to 447, down from 458. Of those, 261 were for Covid-19, down from 306 the prior week; 113 were for RSV, up from 89; and 73 were for flu, up from 63.

Among children, hospitalizations for respiratory illness also increased in the week ended Nov. 12, to 115. That’s up from 88 the week prior. Of those, 90 were for RSV, up from 67 the week before; 14 were for flu and 11 were for Covid-19, both about the same as the week prior.

In the week ended Nov. 12, Kentucky reported 3,053 laboratory-confirmed tests for Covid-19 and 424 laboratory-confirmed tests for the flu.

Axios reports that nationwide, vaccinations against all three respiratory viruses are lagging and that health experts worry hospitals could be slammed again this winter.

“The concern here with this vaccination gap is: Could this get worse as the number of transmissions increases from November, December, into January?” Marc Watkins, chief medical officer for Kroger Health, told Axios.

The latest Kaiser Family Foundation Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor survey shows that about half of adults say they do not plan to get the latest Covid-19 vaccine, which became publicly available nearly two months ago. This includes three in 10 of those who were previously vaccinated, says KFF. However, a quarter of the public said that while they have not gotten the latest vaccine, they intend to do so.

While experts are hoping that the new RSV vaccination will protect older adults and infants from the virus, and keep them out of the hospital, Axios reports, supplies have been limited and some patients have struggled to get insurers to pay for them.

Covid-19 and the flu continue to kill. In the week ended Nov. 5, the state attributed four deaths to Covid-19 deaths and one to the flu.
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