Except for flu, US respiratory virus levels continue to ebb

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Respiratory virus activity in the United States loosened its grip more last week, as COVID-19 activity continues to decline and a few regions of the country fell below their baselines for flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its updates today.

Last week, 20 jurisdictions reported high or very high respiratory illness activity, down from 26 the previous week, the CDC said in its latest respiratory virus snapshot. Emergency department visits for flu, COVID, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) all declined last week.

Mixed flu picture across US

Of the three diseases, flu remains elevated, with increases reported in some parts of the country, especially in central and eastern states, the CDC said in its weekly FluView update. However, flu activity fell below baselines in the Northwest and Mountain West regions for the first time since November.

The percentage of respiratory samples that tested positive for flu at clinical labs held steady, at 13.9%. Meanwhile, testing at public health labs last week revealed that 71.1% of flu samples were influenza A and 28.9% were influenza B. Of the subtyped influenza A viruses, 57.3% were the 2009 H1N1 virus.

Among other markers, outpatient visits for flulike illness declined but remain above the national baseline. Hospitalizations remained stable, and have been trending downward slightly since the middle of February.

Overall deaths from flu held steady. The CDC received reports of 10 more pediatric flu deaths, raising the season's total to 103. The deaths occurred between the end of December and into the first week of March. Six were linked to influenza A, and four were due to influenza B. Of two subtyped influenza A viruses, one was H1N1 and the other the H3N2 strain.

COVID wastewater detections fall to moderate level

COVID markers continued to decline last week, and of the early indicators, wastewater SARS-CoV-2 detections declined from high to moderate. Detections are still highest in the South but are steadily decreasing.

Of the two severity indicators, hospitalizations declined 13.6% last week, and deaths held steady, the CDC said in its latest COVID data updates.  For the week ending March 2, 577 deaths due to COVID were reported to the CDC.

Among early markers, test positivity dropped slightly and is at 6.5% nationally, and emergency department visits for COVID fell 21.2% compared to the week before.

RSV continues decline

Markers for RSV also continue downward trends across the country. Six regions in the East, South, and Southwest are now below their epidemic thresholds.

Hospitalizations—known to be higher in infants and older people—are declining for all age-groups, the CDC said.

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