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Respiratory viruses are flowing through the Cincinnati area. That means the old rules apply

downtown cincinnati
John Minchillo

Respiratory virus cases are surging in local hospitals. The Health Collaborative says the number of hospitalizations for flu are up 73% in the last three weeks, while COVID hospitalizations are up 74%.

The Collaborative's Tiffany Mattingly says that timing is no coincidence coming right after Thanksgiving.

She says people should be aware going into December holidays. "All of those preventive measures we know work, which is social distancing, staying home when you don't feel well, testing for both COVID and flu, and getting vaccinated."

She says unvaccinated people are also more likely to end up in intensive care.

"The flu vaccine is a great match this year; it’s a 74-75% match and is doing a great job in keeping people out of the hospital," she says. "And we know COVID vaccines do a great job in keeping people out of the hospital. So we’re still seeing a majority of hospitalizations for both COVID and flu are both (the) unvaccinated."

Mattingly says one bit of good news: RSV cases are dropping, relieving pressure on pediatricians.

She says local emergency rooms are inundated by people seeking help and some of them don't need to be there. "If you’re having difficulty breathing, if your fingers or your lips are turning blue, if experiencing dizziness and bouts of unconsciousness, go to the emergency room," she says. "Otherwise it’s important to call your primary care physician and seek guidance."

Mattingly says the more people who go to the emergency room means longer wait times, and a bigger chance of spreading or catching something. She says "test and protect" sites are still open for COVID, and public health and urgent care clinics along with some pharmacies offer flu testing.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.