“Tripledemic” On The Rise Following Holiday Gatherings, New Year’s Parties

Kamari Esquerra

The holiday season brought joy and cheer, but for many, it also gave a gift less than desirable – a respiratory illness. 

“Certainly, we have seen an increase in the number of flu cases, COVID cases are going up, as well as now RSV,” said Barbara Cole, Director for Disease Control for RUHS Public Health.

Health officials are warning the “tripledemic” could get worse in January, following holiday gatherings and New Year’s Eve parties. Combine that with people stranded at airports amid thousands of holiday flight cancellations and the risk of infection increases.

“Mid-December to the end of December, we were seeing some increases. We know that our hospitals, particularly pediatric units were greatly impacted,” said Cole. 

RSV is common and highly contagious, especially among children. Riverside County pediatric hospitals have been slammed with cases of the virus, many reaching full capacity. Despite this, health officials say the increase in cases is not alarming. 

“Are we seeing levels consistent with this time of year? I would say so far we are, particularly for influenza,” said Cole. “During this time of year, we often do see an increase in respiratory illnesses.”

Meanwhile, health officials are monitoring a new COVID variant that has become the dominant strain in the US in just a matter of weeks. 

“This new variant, which is referred to as XBBB, is a subvariant of the Omicron variant,” said Cole. “To date, we have not identified any in Riverside County.”

But COVID is present in the county and spreading. 

“Currently, the one we’re seeing the most of is the QB1, again a subvariant for Omicron.”

As the Coachella Valley enters its prime season of festivals, events, and tournaments, health officials are encouraging people to use extra precautions. 

“The basic preventative measures– good handwashing, staying home if you’re ill, and for little ones, if they’re having trouble breathing, then definitely parents want to contact their healthcare provider.”

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