NBC4 WASHINGTON, JULIANA VALENCIA
Virginia health officials are on high alert due to a dangerous surge in flu cases and other illnesses in the state. Hospitals in Northern Virginia are dealing with a spike in patient volume and a strain on capacity as a result.
Flu cases are soaring across the DC area, but the latest numbers are especially concerning in Virginia.
The latest Weekly Influenza Activity Report from the VDH, generated on Nov. 24, shows that this year’s flu season peaked weeks earlier than other flu seasons in recent years.
Virginia has also reported its first pediatric flu death of the season. The patient was between five and 12 years old, and lived in the southwestern part of the state.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, congresswoman for Virginia’s 7th District, announced in a tweet on Tuesday night that she and Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen will call on President Joe Biden and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to declare a Pediatric Health Emergency.
The goal of declaring an emergency is to help pediatric healthcare providers, at a time when multiple hospitals are issuing capacity warnings.
According to INOVA, the amount of people coming in can be traced to three illnesses: the flu, RSV, and COVID-19.
Health agencies say that winter weather, indoor gatherings and a lack of mask wearing are a few reasons for the uptick.
“Monday was the highest inpatient census that INOVA has ever seen,” said INOVA’s Dr. Michael Homeyer. “We exceeded 2,000 patients throughout the system.”
Health leaders say visiting an urgent care or primary care doctor can help cut down on wait times. But if you have chest pain or difficulty breathing, head straight to the emergency room.
Making sure you’re up to date on all your flu and COVID shots can also help cut down on community transmission.