Vox: “Right now, the US is in the middle of an infectious disease trifecta. The “tripledemic” of the coronavirus, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) has led New York City and Los Angeles County, among others, to “strongly recommend” masking indoors. Officials in Oakland and Sacramento may follow suit soon. The CDC, which has barely spoken about masking for the past year, now advises wearing one based on Covid-19 community levels — a recommendation that considers hospital admissions, beds available, and the number of case rates. Look, I’m not trying to freak you out with this objectively scary information. The data simply speaks to how crucial it is to prepare to weather this season. There’s a sense of fatigue especially when it comes to Covid: It’s been almost three years since that particular pandemic started, and the recommendations from officials have remained confusing. It’s overwhelming; I totally get that. But addressing the emotional reality of navigating these illnesses can go a long way toward protecting you and your loved ones. Covid-19 cases have increased by 26 percent over the two weeks preceding December 19, while hospitalizations and deaths have seen a 14 percent and 63 percent jump, respectively. And this flu season is on trend to be one of the worst in recent years. The CDC estimates that 15 million people have contracted the flu this season. As of December 16, at least 150,000 people have been hospitalized, and 9,300 have died from flu rates higher than average. And even though RSV is beginning to trend downward, infection rates remain high. These high rates of illness are also putting a major strain on hospitals and pharmacies. So how can we best navigate this icky viral chaos? I asked Elizabeth Stuart, a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health professor, and James Conway, a physician specializing in pediatric infectious disease at the University of Wisconsin. Here’s their advice, edited for length and clarity…”
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