A look at the latest Georgia cases of flu, RSV and COVID-19

“Tripledemic” improves slightly, but COVID cases are headed higher

The much-discussed “tripledemic” of respiratory viruses is showing some improvement in Georgia, but with holidays still ahead on the calendar, it’s wise to not relax just yet.

Georgia’s cases and hospitalizations from flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, activity have been falling for three weeks in a row. But COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been steadily rising.

Here’s a look at the latest trends and numbers from the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The Flu: The number of patient visits to doctors for flu or flu-like illness fell to 4.7% during the week ending Dec. 17, down from 5.3% the previous week, according to the latest report. Flu-related hospitalizations have also been down for three consecutive weeks. In metro Atlanta, which according to the state’s surveillance includes Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Cobb, Douglas, Gwinnett, Rockdale, and Newton counties, 53 people were hospitalized for the flu for the week ending Dec. 17. That was down from 82 hospitalizations the previous week and down from 132 the week before that. Since the flu season began on Oct. 8, 33 people, including one child, have died from the flu in Georgia. Last year at this time, there were four flu-related deaths in Georgia.

RSV: The state DPH doesn’t track each RSV case, but based on testing, RSV activity also appears to be slowing down in the state. The latest surveillance showed only 2.3% of RVS tests in Georgia testing positive on a PCR molecular test used by doctors, down from 3.3% from the previous week. This marks a sharp dive from October when over 15% of the RSV tests were positive. RSV can be particularly dangerous among infants and older adults, potentially leading to breathing trouble and complications such as pneumonia.

COVID-19: While COVID cases in Georgia dipped slightly over the past week, they have been on an uptick for several weeks now with the 7-day rolling average of new confirmed cases increasing to 1,140 as of Wednesday, up from 519 a month earlier — a 120% increase, according to DPH data. Due to the prevalence of at-home COVID tests, which are not reported to health officials, the actual case numbers are probably far higher than those numbers reflect.

COVID hospitalizations have also been climbing, reaching 1,184 on Wednesday. That’s almost double from a month ago when 631 people in the state were hospitalized with COVID, but far lower than last winter’s peak in January when it reached 5,400 hospitalizations.

Meanwhile, the updated vaccine booster has not been well received by the public. Only 8.5% of people in Georgia who are 5 and over have received one, according to the latest CDC data Wednesday. Nationally, 14.6% of that age group have taken the new booster.

Credit: Christina Matacotta

Credit: Christina Matacotta