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The masks are coming back: The “tripledemic” is real and many are masking up again

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Influenza, RSV, and Covid-19 are of concern to many

By Andrew Harris

You’ve probably noticed more and more people wearing masks in public places like grocery stores and restaurants. You’ve also probably caught one of three different viruses that are running rampant as the cold weather sets in. Some people have been sick for weeks, and many very seriously sick. Hospitalizations are up and children seem to be getting hit harder than normal.

As predicted by many immunologists and doctors, our two years of social isolation due to the pandemic has left us more vunerable to other viruses in the post-pandemic life. Hospitals have warned of large surges in admissions, especially in urban areas. RSV, or Respiratory syncytial virus, which typically impacts infants, has also been hitting adults hard. The virus we all attribute to “the sniffles” or a, “little cough” a few times each year could now be making some seriously ill.

The flu appears to be traveling on the same viral path in the wake of Covid. During the pandemic, we enjoyed record low levels of influenza, leaving the virus to lay and wait, “like a stalking butler.” The nasty bug is hitting households harder than normal already this year. Historically influenza peaks in February.

Covid-19’s latests reincarnation is the light spot in this report. While the virus is still killing people everyday and causing chaos in workplaces, data suggest that the dominant strain in circulation now is becoming less severe. That certainly doesn’t suggest that the latest Omicron strain, BQ 1, isn’t deadly or very danger for many. Read the latest from Yale University here.

With this understanding, many are protecting themselves(and others) with a facemask. Those with lung conditions, immune system concerns, or lucky enough to be considered “old,” have every reason to be concerned.

Currently the CDC is advising communities in 9 NY counties to wear masks in public settings, including Tioga and Broome Counties. Steuben County and Chemung County are, “… places in which those at high risk for severe disease should be cautious.”

Only Chatauqua, Cattauragus, and Allegany County are listed under locations where wearing a mask indoors is not necessary. Check your county here: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home

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