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As the start of the holiday season approaches, Colorado and other states are facing a potentially hazardous situation with a trifecta of viruses on the upswing as family gatherings are set to greatly increase.

Some hospitals are reporting pediatric beds are at or near capacity due to the influx of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases among children (and adults) alongside rising influenza reports and an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases reported since mid-October, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The Denver Post reports hospitalizations from COVID-19 up more than 50 percent from a couple of weeks ago, and high flu cases were reported n early November, based on outpatient healthcare visits.

Locally, Chaffee County has not yet seen such increases in the three viruses, according to public health officials.

Chaffee County Director of Public Health Andrea Carlstrom. AVV file photo.

“While we are very well aware that RSV rates in the nation and in the state are at an incredibly high rate (for pediatric cases) and that influenza rates are fairly high for this early in the year while COVID-19 incidence is increasing across the state, we are currently not seeing alarming trends in our county,” said Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) Director Andrea Carlstrom on Wednesday.

She noted hearing some facilities were reporting nearing capacity. The Post reported Children’s Hospital raised concerns about operating at or above capacity consistently, urging the public to take precautions, particularly around infants and toddlers.

“Hospitals are getting creative on how to meet the demand for pediatric beds,” Carlstrom observed.

Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center (HRRMC) as of midweek reported no respiratory disease hospitalization increases, reporting that patient populations were “status quo.”

Of course, that can change quickly, as the state has seen in the recent past, such as with the Omicron surge seen last January.

State health officials have expressed concerns that there is just not enough capacity to absorb an influx of patients with RSV, flu and COVID-19 as the season of holiday gatherings approaches.

Carlstrom reassured residents health officials here are being watchful.

“CCPH and HRRMC, along with other members of our healthcare community, communicate and meet on a regular basis to assess local trends, needs, and resources,” she said.

She noted the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s advice for the public to avoid respiratory illness has been clear for some time:

  • Get vaccinated. Both flu and COVID-19 have effective, safe vaccines. Anyone 6 months and older can get vaccinated for flu and COVID-19. It is safe to get the vaccines together.
  • Stay home when you are sick with respiratory symptoms, including not visiting or interacting with people who may be immunocompromised or at higher risk, including older adults, young children, and infants.
  • Encourage frequent handwashing and proper hand-hygiene techniques. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Encourage children to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue or upper arm sleeve when they cough or sneeze, and throw away the tissue after they use i
  • Clean potentially contaminated surfaces, like doorknobs, tables, handrails, etc.
  • Avoid sharing cups and eating utensils and touching face with unwashed hands.