South Shore Health sees ‘unprecedented levels’ of flu, RSV patients

WEYMOUTH – South Shore Health officials say the system is grappling with lingering staffing shortages and a full emergency room as people battle a trifecta of respiratory illnesses – COVID-19, RSV and the flu.

“We’re in a phase where we have the highest volume of respiratory illness in decades, essentially,” said Dr. Todd Ellerin, director of infectious diseases at South Shore Health. “We’ve been dealing solely with COVID for three years, and now we have unprecedented levels of RSV and unprecedented levels of the flu for this early in the season. It’s not like we haven’t seen this in January, but November and early December is very early.”

All but seven states have reported high or very high respiratory virus activity this week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Massachusetts is categorized as “very high,” with about 6% of doctor’s visits and 3% of hospitalizations related to the flu.

Rochelle Walensky, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said last week that flu-related hospitalizations at this time of year are higher than the country has seen in a decade.

At South Shore Health’s Health Express urgent care locations, Ellerin said about 32% of patients who got tested for the flu last week came back positive, compared to 7% for COVID-19.

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