(NEXSTAR) — As Americans prepare to gather for the holidays, many say they fear becoming sick in the coming months. Based on the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those concerns may be genuine.
While the CDC doesn’t track COVID-19 testing as closely as it did during the pandemic, it does still track other COVID-related data.
That includes hospital admissions for COVID, jumped by almost 9% in the most recent week of data, through Nov. 11. The percentage of people visiting the emergency room and testing positive for COVID is up by 7%, and the number of deaths attributed to COVID is up 9%.
The numbers aren’t as stark as in recent years, but CDC data shows some parts of the country may be seeing more COVID cases than others.
The CDC currently considers 20 or more new COVID hospital admissions per 100,000 people in a week as a “high” level. Falling into that category, as you can see in the map below, are Hawaii’s Big Island, Nevada’s White Pine County, and counties throughout Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas.
There are far more areas that are seeing a “medium” level of new COVID hospital admissions. Almost 30 states have at least one county in this category. That includes areas within the Ohio Valley: southern Ohio, eastern Kentucky, and western portions of West Virginia and Virginia.
It isn’t just COVID that’s going around. CDC data shows the flu is on the rise throughout the U.S.
Flu data released Friday shows very high activity last week in Louisiana, and high activity in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, and South Carolina. It was also high in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory where health officials declared an influenza epidemic earlier this month.
Flu activity was moderate but rising in New York City, Arkansas, California, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. And while flu activity has been high in Alaska for weeks, the state did not report data last week, so it wasn’t part of the latest count.
Tracking during flu season relies in part on reports of people with flu-like symptoms who go to doctor’s offices or hospitals; many people with the flu are not tested, so their infections aren’t lab-confirmed. COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses can sometimes muddy the picture.
Speaking of other respiratory viruses, the CDC reports RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is also on the rise. After dropping off over the summer, RSV detections are climbing in the U.S., reaching into the thousands earlier this month. Among states seeing cases rise are California, Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee. Some states are still reporting “insufficient data,” according to the CDC.
There are vaccines currently available to qualifying Americans for all three viruses. Health experts say you can get your COVID booster and flu vaccine at the same time. Older adults and those who are pregnant are also eligible to receive the first-ever RSV vaccine approved by the FDA earlier this year.
Flu vaccination rates are better than rates for the other two main respiratory viruses — COVID-19 and RSV. About 14% of adults and 5% of children have gotten the currently recommended COVID-19 shot, and about 13.5% of adults 60 and older have gotten one of the RSV shots that became available earlier this year.
The CDC says there are a number of things you can do to help keep yourself from getting sick during cold and flu season. That includes staying home when you’re sick (even if you have to miss the holiday gathering), washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and maintaining other healthy habits like staying physically active and getting plenty of sleep.
The Association Press contributed to this report.