FLORIDA – The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed tens of thousands of people are being admitted to hospitals each week for one of three sicknesses: the flu, COVID-19, or RSV.

Shandy Dearth of the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health said having all three diseases circulating at the same time can put an extra burden on the healthcare system, resulting in longer wait times for doctor’s appointments and hospital visits.

According to the CDC, during the week of December 23, there were more than 29,000 patients admitted to hospitals with COVID-19. Roughly 15,000 people were admitted with the flu and thousands more have been diagnosed with RSV.

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CDC data also showed that weekly trips to the emergency room rose by 12% and hospitalizations spiked by about 17%.

Dr. Mohammed Reza of Reza Health attributed the uptick in respiratory illnesses to people from all over the world gathering for the holidays or religious events.

“People are bringing all types of viral infections from different locations and gathering in closed areas, and close areas which is how these respiratory viruses get transmitted,” Reza said.

Reza said the majority of cases he’s seeing in North Florida are people sick with COVID-19 followed by locals who have the flu. He said his office hasn’t seen many RSV cases, but all three illnesses have similar symptoms which makes it difficult to diagnose.

“We’re doing a lot of telehealth visits because we don’t know what they have. And we don’t want to expose our staff to this either. Even if it’s COVID, flu, or RSV. we recommend people get tested as soon as symptoms have started,” Reza said.

MORE: RSV, COVID, Flu: Avoiding the triple whammy this winter

Reza said rapid tests for COVID-19 and the flu are inexpensive and reliable but RSV tests and treatments can be pricey. He said the majority of middle-aged Americans who aren’t immunocompromised should be able to resolve the sickness on their own, with plenty of hydration and rest.

Vaccines can also help prevent severe illness and death, but CDC data shows Americans are hesitant to get the shot.

According to the CDC, 19% of adults and 8% of children have received the latest COVID-19 vaccine. Just 17% of adults got the new RSV vaccine and less than 50% of adults and children got the flu vaccine this season.

“This virus can still put elderly people or immunocompromised people in the hospital and we’re seeing that more and more. As people come together, make sure to get tested. Doing things outdoors, keeping windows and doors open, and washing your hands are important to prevent infections in general bacterial or viral infections,” Reza said.

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