COVID activity picks up pace alongside other respiratory viruses

positive COVID test


After a stable period, COVID-19 activity is increasing again, especially in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in its latest updates.

In a weekly snapshot of respiratory illness activity, the CDC said along with rises in most COVID indicators, the United States is experiencing elevated respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity and rising hospitalization for the virus, especially in young children. The flu season is also picking up steam.

Pediatric hospitalizations on the rise

Hospital occupancy for respiratory illnesses, including intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, is stable, but pediatric inpatient bed occupancy is rising, approaching levels seen last respiratory virus season, the CDC said.

Amid reports of pediatric pneumonia clusters in China that have swamped some of the country's pediatric hospitals and clinics, the CDC said it is monitoring increases in respiratory illnesses in children, including potential elevated rates of pediatric pneumonia in parts of the United States.

In Ohio, the Warren County Health District this week reported elevated levels of pediatric pneumonia, with 145 cases reported so far in children ages 3 to 14. None were fatal. Severity is similar to previous years, and most patients were treated at home with antibiotics.

"The increase in reported pneumonia cases is not suspected of being a new/novel respiratory virus but rather a large uptick in the number of typical pediatric pneumonia cases," the department said. "There has been zero evidence of this outbreak being connected to other outbreaks, either statewide, nationally or internationally."

"These reported increases do not appear to be due to a new virus or other pathogen but to several viral or bacterial causes that we expect to see during the respiratory illness season," it said, adding that it is working closely with local and state health partners to maintain strong situational awareness.

COVID markers rising

For COVID, hospitalizations—one of the main severity indicators—continue to rise, and early indicators also rose last week, with test positivity at 10% and emergency department (ED) visits up 10.6% compared with the previous week. Deaths held steady nationally last week, but a few states saw rises, including Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, and West Virginia.

Regarding ED visits for COVID, Iowa reported a substantial rise, and Wisconsin reported a moderate increase. Test positivity was highest in the lower Midwestern states, followed by those in the upper Midwest and the Mountain West.

Wastewater SARS-CoV-2 detections, another early marker, are at high levels nationally, according to the CDC's new dashboard, especially in the Midwest.

In its updates today, the CDC said hospitalizations, ED visits, and test positivity are also on the rise for RSV and flu. Flu hospitalizations are low but increasing, and RSV hospitalizations are rising at all tracking sites.


This week's top reads