This winter, there is growing concern about the convergence of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), flu and COVID-19, a phenomenon some have termed a “triple threat” or “tripledemic.” All three viruses cause respiratory illness with the potential to lead to serious illness or death. Local hospitals are already feeling the impacts of these illnesses, but there are actions we can all take to decrease the likelihood of getting or spreading these viruses.
RSV and flu normally surge each winter. This year, California has experienced more cases earlier in the season and more severe illness, especially among younger (under 5 years old) and older (65+ years old) residents. After several months of declining COVID-19 rates, Sacramento County’s rates have increased steadily over the last month. The county’s CDC COVID-19 Community Level has increased from Low to Medium, which means that everyone should consider wearing a mask in indoor public places, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Guidance for Face Coverings. Masks are also recommended in crowded indoor public places for vulnerable people or those with household or social contact with vulnerable people.
The increase in cases also activates mask requirements in certain settings, as set by CDPH. Homeless shelters, emergency shelters, cooling and heating centers, and state and local correctional facilities and detention centers are required by CDPH to reinstate universal masking requirements for staff and residents. Masks remain required in healthcare settings, long-term care settings and adult and senior care facilities.
Dr. Olivia Kasirye, Sacramento County Public Health Officer, reminds residents, “As we gather this winter with family and friends, it is important to remember the tools we have to stay healthy and safe. Updated COVID-19 boosters and flu shots help provide essential protection. Consider wearing a mask in indoor public places and wash your hands frequently. If you’re sick, whether it’s with COVID-19 or something else, stay home so you don’t spread it to others.”