Surge in respiratory illnesses hits ArkLaTex
Hospitals overcrowded; “we don’t have room for a big surge with viral illnesses”
(KSLA) — The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the United States is seeing a rise in respiratory illnesses, particularly COVID-19, flu and RSV. In the ArkLaTex, the flu seems to be the most prevalent virus.
Dr. Mike Sewell, of Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport, talked with KSLA’s Destinee Patterson to explain what local health care systems are seeing.
While he acknowledged that cases have sharply increased this season, he said most cases are treatable from home unless the patient has another condition, like asthma.
“You may want to get tested, because there are certain anti-virals we can give you for both COVID and the flu,” Dr. Sewell said. “But if you’re otherwise healthy, you’re probably better off handling it at home.”
According to the most recent CDC data, “47 jurisdictions experienced high or very high flu activity.” Across the country, flu hospitalizations have surged to decade-high levels.
Dr. Sewell recommends people utilize the mitigation measures used during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, including handwashing and social distancing. These steps, he said, will reduce the spread and ultimately keep people out of the hospital.
“Our hospitals are overcrowded now with other illnesses,” Dr. Sewell said. “Staffing shortages everywhere in health care are causing difficulty getting patients through the system, getting them what they need, getting them out of the hospital so they can make room for others.
“The hospitals are stretched to capacity already,” he continued. “We don’t have room for a big surge with viral illnesses. If we can keep those in an outpatient arena, we’ll all be better off.”
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