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Health officials urge ‘common sense’ approach to rise in illness

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As the numbers of influenza, COVID-19 and other upper respiratory infections continue to climb, doctors are advising members of the public to take a common sense approach to staying healthy and mask up if needed.

“RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus infection) has deeply impacted pediatric populations,” said Dr. Ulysses Wu, infectious disease specialist for Hartford Healthcare. “Hopefully, that has leveled off. Influenza is on the rise as well. It’s more now than compared to the last two years. It’s the most robust influenza season since 2010. We would expect that to peak earlier than past seasons.”

Connecticut hospitals and emergency departments are busy but equipped to handle more cases and the current influenza vaccine is a good match, Wu told reporters during a Tuesday press conference. Hospitals are at about 77% capacity.

“The [emergency departments] are bustling across state,” Wu added. And if it does get to a point where it gets too high, we do have surge plans in place if we need to.” 

Wu repeated his recommendation for masking and that people use them when out shopping and in crowds, or if caring for someone with a compromised immune system.

The current rise in hospitalizations has triggered mask mandates in other regions of the U.S., but not in Connecticut.

Gov. Ned Lamont told the Hartford Courant Tuesday that despite the uptick across all viruses, he saw no immediate need for any mask mandate.

“I don’t see any need at this point to think of any further restrictions,” Lamont told the Courant. “When it comes to going to school, if you’re showing symptoms, please don’t go or test before you go. If you’re showing symptoms and you want to go, I recommend that you wear a mask.”

Lamont added, “There’s not going to be any need to require masks at this point, but I would say if you haven’t gotten your booster shot, get the booster.’’

The Yale School of Medicine says it may be difficult to determine whether symptoms are from COVID-19 or the flu. Therefore, anyone with symptoms should get tested, stay home, and wear a mask around others.

Other conditions such as strep throat are also prevalent and share similar symptoms, Yale said. 

Yale also emphasized that people can get the COVID-19 booster and influenza immunization shot at the same time. 

mgodin@record-journal.com203-317-2255Twitter: @Cconnbiz


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