WEYMOUTH – South Shore Health officials say the system is grappling with a continued staffing shortage and a full emergency room as people battle a trifecta of respiratory illnesses – COVID-19, RSV and flu.
“We’re at a stage where we actually have the highest rate of respiratory disease in decades,” says Dr. Todd Ellerin, Director of Infectious Diseases at South Shore Health. “We’ve been dealing exclusively with COVID for three years, and now we have unprecedented levels of RSV and unprecedented levels of flu for so early in the season. It’s not like we didn’t see this in January, but in November and early December is very early.”
All but seven states reported high or very high respiratory virus activity this week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Massachusetts is categorized as “very high,” with about 6% of doctor visits and 3% of hospitalizations related to the flu.
Rochelle Walensky, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said last week that flu-related hospitalizations at this time of year are higher than the country has seen in a decade.
At South Shore Health Health Express urgent care sites, Ellerin said about 32% of patients tested for the flu last week came back positive, compared to 7% for COVID-19.