Several Southern California hospitals have started using overflow tents outside emergency rooms to deal with a growing number of patients. with flu and other respiratory illnesses.
The San Diego-Union Tribune reported Overflow tents were set up at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health in La Jolla and Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa on Friday to handle a spike in respiratory illnesses.
Scripps hospitals and doctors’ offices have reported 1,695 positive tests for influenza since Sept. 1, up from 471 during the same period a year ago.
The move comes amid an increase in flu symptoms in emergency room patients. in San Diego County. About 9% of these patients had flu symptoms last week, up from 7% two weeks ago, according to a county report.
The San Diego-Union Tribune also noted an increase in patients with COVID-19 symptoms, though not as rapidly, according to the county’s weekly respiratory illness report.
“The fear is that everything is bouncing off everything else and once you’ve gotten through the flu, you could still get COVID or any other virus you might get,” said Dr. Ghazala Sharieff, Scripps Health’s chief medical officer of care operations. acute and clinical excellence.
“I’m hopeful, but we’re still planning it to be like this until February,” Sharieff said.
In general, the flu hits hardest from end of december to february.
The southern hemisphere also faced an earlier than usual flu season. Influenza positivity rates in Chile reached epidemic thresholds as early as January, several months earlier than usual.
Health experts said it was not immediately clear whether flu cases would peak earlier than usual in California, which normally sees the most cases from December to February, or a prolonged flu season.
Much of the United States is seeing a quick start to the flu season. Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that more cases of the flu are being reported than is normally expected at this time.
On Friday, the CDC reported that flu and similar viral illnesses are notably high in Georgia, New York City, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington, DC
“Early increases in seasonal influenza activity continue across the country. The southeastern and south-central areas of the country are reporting the highest levels of activity, followed by the mid-Atlantic and west coast regions of central- south”. the CDC said.
Most of them are influenza A, specifically a strain called H3N2. While any version of the flu can be dangerous in vulnerable populations, this strain is known to cause more severe illness.
Associated Press contributed to this report.