Health systems expect to see sharp increases in patients presenting with symptoms of multiple respiratory infections in the coming days and weeks. Experts interviewed for a report on CNN suggest that hospitals already straining to keep up with rates of respiratory syncytial virus, influenza, and SARS-CoV-2 could be hit with a wave of patients newly infected after gathering with family and friends over the winter holidays. Ben Leach, a spokesperson for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia quoted in the report, noted that his facilities are seeing increased wait times in the emergency room, with flu surging as rates of RSV recede. At University of California Davis Health, spokesperson Edwin Garcia called the situation “manageable” for now, while Sean O’Leary, MD at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado noted that the scope of the problem is “hard to predict.” Urgent care centers are likely to be impacted in two ways: First, like the ED, by seeing growing numbers of patients with respiratory symptoms after being incubated with family and friends over the holidays and, second, by catching the overflow of patients with nonrespiratory complaints who recognize that the emergency room may be the last place they want to be right now.
Be Prepared—Holiday Gatherings Are Likely to Beget a Deluge of Viral Infections (and More)