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COVID-19, RSV, and flu levels are ‘very high’ in most Mountain West states, CDC says

An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
During the first week of January 2024, Mountain West states experienced a rise in emergency department visits for the flu, COVID-19, and RSV in each state, according to the CDC.

New data shows respiratory illness is elevated or increasing across most of the United States, including the Mountain West region.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks the percentage of doctor or emergency department visits for respiratory illnesses such as the flu, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

During the first week of January 2024, respiratory illness levels were considered very high in Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, and high in Utah.

That led to a rise in emergency department visits for the flu, COVID-19, and RSV in each state, according to the CDC. In Utah, 11.4% of the total emergency department visits were associated with viral respiratory illness. Not far behind was New Mexico at 10.8%, followed by Wyoming (9.9%), Idaho (8.7%), Colorado (8.2%), and Nevada (6.4%).

Adam Vasquez, an epidemiologist with Northern Nevada Public Health, said early January is typically “the heart of respiratory illness season.”

“Everybody's gathering indoors more, so there's less ventilation,” Vasquez continued. “That’s one of the major points for prevention is having proper filtration, ventilation in the home. But, obviously, when the windows are all closed up in the middle of winter, it’s a little more difficult.”

With that in mind, Vasquez said the best prevention measure people can take is staying up to date on vaccinations. He noted that it’s not too late for people to get a seasonal flu and COVID-19 shot, and an RSV vaccine, if eligible.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.
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