As the holiday season comes to an end, Los Angeles County has witnessed a surge in illnesses, prompting public health officials to issue advisories. The primary contributors to this upswing in the flu, COVID, and RSV are individuals who gathered during the holidays and then traveled back home, becoming the main spreaders of illnesses. While an increase in COVID-19 cases is expected after holiday gatherings, this year’s spike coincides with a rise in flu and RSV cases.

According to the L.A. County Department of Public Health, coronavirus hospitalizations surpassed 800 per day, peaking around Christmas. Recent stats suggest approximately four people die daily due to COVID-19 in L.A. County. At the same time, flu cases rose at the start of the new year, averaging 425 influenza-positive patients in hospitals daily for the week ending December 30, 2023. Although there has been a slight decline, it remains nearly double the levels seen a month ago. The L.A. County Public Health Department’s Respiratory Watch reported a notable decrease in RSV cases, from nearly 500 positive cases weekly in late December to 238 for the week ending January 6.

Despite L.A. County being categorized with a low hospitalization admissions rate by the CDC, health officials reinstated a mask mandate for healthcare workers and visitors in healthcare settings. The statewide statistics indicate that California is among the 37 states with a “very high” respiratory illness level.

A public health release from November 2023 highlighted the slow increase in Winter Respiratory Virus Spread, emphasizing the importance of planning and preparation. Since November 1, the average daily number of reported COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County has increased by 25%, and the percentage of emergency department visits classified as COVID-19-related has risen by 20%.

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Amidst the ‘tripledemic’—a simultaneous rise in COVID-19, RSV, and flu cases—the county’s healthcare system is facing a significant challenge. Health officials strongly advise residents to stay up-to-date with their vaccines, including the yearly flu vaccine and the recently updated (2023–2024 formula) COVID-19 vaccine, recommended for individuals six months and older. If you’re pregnant, have young children, or are over 60, it’s a good idea to consult your healthcare provider regarding the RSV vaccine.

To help curb the spread of illness, the community is being urged to stay at home if feeling unwell, undergo early testing for potential COVID-19 infection, and promptly seek medical attention. Conveniently, Public Health is offering free COVID-19 tests across the county. Treatment options, such as antiviral medications, are accessible for both COVID-19 and the flu. For adults and children over 12 displaying COVID-19 symptoms, Paxlovid can be taken within five days of symptom onset. Additionally, Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) is on hand for flu treatment in adults and children aged 14 days and older. Those at a higher risk for complications should not hesitate to seek medical attention if they experience any signs of illness.

Residents with questions about respiratory symptoms, vaccines, and testing can contact the Public Health Call Center, whose dedicated staff is there not just to provide information but also to connect you with resources and even help you schedule vaccination appointments, including arranging in-home vaccinations. As Los Angeles County navigates through this challenging period, updated vaccinations and prompt medical attention are crucial to minimizing the impact of the tripledemic on public health.