Emergency-room visits for respiratory illness went up 10% in latest weekly report; hospitalizations for flu and RSV inched up

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

The state Department for Public Health‘s latest weekly respiratory report shows Covid-19 virus activity is moderate, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity is increasing, and hospitalizations for RSV and the flu have inched up.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a reminder that immunizations are available this fall and winter that can help protect against all three of these major respiratory diseases, saying, “Immunization against these viruses remains the best protection for reducing the risk of serious illness, hospitalizations, long-term health impacts, and death.”

In the week ended Nov. 19, emergency department visits for respiratory illnesses in Kentucky increased again, to 3,582, an increasse of 10 percent from 3,247 the prior week.

The breakdown of cases was 1,492 for flu, up from 1,345 the prior week; 1,306 for Covid-19, up from 1,200; and 784 for RSV, up from 702.

Among Kentucky children, ED visits for respiratory illnesses also increased again, to 1,726.  Of those, 867 were for flu, up from 771; 662 were for RSV, up from 598; and 197 were for Covid-19, down from 201.

Hospitalizations for respiratory illnesses in Kentucky decreased a bit, but have largely stayed the same for the last three weeks.  In the week ended Nov. 19, the state reported  471 such hospitalizations, down from 476 the prior week. Hospitalizations for Covid-19 decreased for the second week in a row, to 263; RSV hospitalizations increased to 129, up from 116 the prior week; and flu also went up slightly to 79, from 72 the prior week.

Among children, hospitalizations for respiratory disease dropped slightly after rising for six weeks in a row, to 111. That’s down from 115 the prior week. RSV hospitalizations among children dropped to 84, down from 90 the week prior; flu hospitalizations increased to 20, up from 14 the week prior; and Covid-19 dropped to seven, down from 11.

A more recent report, from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that Covid-19 hospitalization rates in Kentucky in the week ended Nov. 25 were highest along the state’s eastern border, from Lewis County to Letcher County.

In the week ended Nov. 19, the state reported 2,990 laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 tests, down from 3,116 the week prior. The state reported 570 laboratory-confirmed flu tests, up from 428 the week prior. It was the third straight increase in weekly flu numbers.

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