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Officials, experts call for masking as illnesses slam US ahead of holidays

Nearly 10% of US counties have “high” transmission levels and should be masking.

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Enlarge / Commuters in a subway in New York on October 25, 2022. (credit: Getty | Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto)

Health officials and experts are renewing calls for masking as respiratory illnesses surge and Americans prepare for holidays.

RSV infections in children appear to be cresting nationally after overwhelming children’s hospitals for weeks, but they remain unseasonably high. Influenza-like illnesses also remain extremely high for this point in the year, with flu-like illnesses accounting for more than 1 in 13 visits to the doctor’s office and hospitalizations continuing to rise. Respiratory infection transmission is high or very high in 42 states.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, meanwhile, are on the rise, signaling the potential start of a much-dreaded winter wave. According to data tracking by The New York Times, cases are up 56 percent over the last two weeks and hospitalizations, which typically lag behind case rises, are up 28 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that about 9 percent of US counties have high COVID-19 Community Levels, which are based on case numbers and hospital capacity. An additional 35 percent of US counties reportedly have medium community levels.

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