The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention again is urging people to wear masks indoors.
The reason for encouraging mask use is what health officials are calling a "tripledemic:" the flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and COVID-19.
The CDC's Dec. 8 report said that 13.7% of Americans live in communities rated "high" for COVID-19 community levels, up from 4.9% the previous week, The Hill reported.
An additional 38.1% of Americans are in "medium" areas and 48.2% are in "low" areas.
"[We] encourage you to wear a high quality, well-fitting mask to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, most especially for those in the 5% of the population currently living in counties with high COVID-19 community level," Dr. Rochelle Walensky said last week during a conference call.
"CDC continues to recommend masking for anyone choosing to travel by plane, train, bus, or other form of public transportation, or for anyone who may be immunocompromised or increased risk of severe disease."
The Hill reported that several major cities are mulling a return to masking mandates.
More than 10 counties in California fall under the "high" areas.
Los Angeles County health officials are recommending that everyone wear masks indoors. Hospitals in LA saw an average of 1,245 COVID-positive patients every day — a nearly 20% jump from previous week.
"When you put on your mask for these few weeks during this surge, it is about the people of LA County. It is about every individual, every visitor, our health care workers, essential workers and other people who serve. In addition to vaccination, it is one of the easiest things everyone can do right now,” Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County director of public health, wrote in a Dec. 9 press release.
In New York, state officials urged schools to return to indoor masking to curb the spread of respiratory illnesses, and a health advisory notice alerted hospitals, local health departments, emergency rooms and labs to prepare for rapidly rising cases of respiratory illness.
"Our immune system has not been revved up. The vaccine rates are lower. We are a prime sitting target for other respiratory illnesses as we relax our guard down and begin to have contact with other people," said Bruce Hirsch, an attending physician in infectious diseases at New York’s Northwell Health.
Children 6 months and younger who haven’t built up strong immune systems yet are at greatest risk for RSV.
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