DENVER — A triple threat of COVID-19, influenza, and RSV could ruin the holiday celebration for many Coloradans planning to be with family in the next couple of days.
“COVID-19, RSV, and influenza are all circulating in Colorado right now,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
Herlihy said since Oct. 1, about 800 people have been hospitalized across Colorado because of the flu, 850 because of RSV, and more than 3,000 because of COVID-19.
“We've seen many more COVID-19 hospitalizations than we've seen influenza or RSV hospitalizations, but those trends might start to change in the next couple of weeks,” said Herlihy.
The respiratory viruses have similar symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat, and headache. But doctors said they can impact people differently and can be quite dangerous for some.
Older adults and people who are immunocompromised are at particular risk for COVID-19 and the flu, while RSV can be especially dangerous to very young children.
“We are certainly seeing high rates of viral respiratory illnesses, both in Colorado and across the country,” said Dr. Bob Belknap with Denver Health. “Overall, influenza and RSV appear to be increasing, whereas COVID-19 is at an elevated level, but something of a plateau right now.”
Belknap said he expects the number of people infected to increase over the next couple of weeks.
“Certainly, the more people are intermixing around each other, and spending time together in close proximity, that the perfect opportunity for respiratory viruses to spread,” said Belknap.
Doctors advise people who are sick to stay home. If they must go out, they recommend they wear a high-quality mask, like an N95, KN95 or KF94. They also recommend people to get vaccinated if they haven’t been already.
COVID-19, flu and RSV in Colorado: Who should get which vaccine and when?
“For influenza and COVID, that's anyone over six months of age (who) should get vaccinated,” said Dr. Larissa Pisney, an infectious diseases specialist at UC Health. “And then we have a new RSV vaccine this year that's available for everyone over the age of 60, and then pregnant women between 32 and 36 weeks of their pregnancy.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists Colorado as "very high" in respiratory virus illnesses right now, along with parts of the southwest and southeastern U.S.