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Coronavirus Chaos

Tripledemic: COVID-19, the FLU and RSV Are Hitting America All At Once

COVID-19 Facemask
COVID-19 Facemask

This was the year the word “tripledemic” entered the lexicon. That’s the term for the three different types of illnesses, COVID-19, flu, and RSV, that are affecting people this winter season.

The New York Times looked at the problem last week.

“R.S.V., or respiratory syncytial virus, has made so many young children ill this fall that weekly pediatric hospitalizations for R.S.V. are the highest recorded,” the newspaper said. “Influenza, which normally peaks in February, has driven up hospitalization rates to the highest level for this time of year in more than a decade, surpassing hospitalizations from Covid-19. And while Covid illness is lower than it was the last two Decembers, it, too, is climbing.”

More recently, the same newspaper reported that while RSV appears to have reached its peak, COVID cases are rising and flu continues to be a concern.

“I know people are kind of tired of hearing some of that stuff,” Dr. Peter Graven of Oregon Health & Science University told the Times. “We’re not saying people need to change your life forever. Right now, for the next some number of weeks, we’re in not a great spot.”

There’s also the question of whether people should get back to masking. Some experts, however, have again begun recommending mask usage. 

“We have always been fearing that these viruses were going to come back, but then as they came, they came back too fast and too furious,” Dr. Diego Hijano, an infectious disease specialist with St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, told CNBC. “Everyone needs to know that masking really does protect individuals against all three viruses.”

Mask mandates, per the Washington Post, are essentially done in the United States, with a few exceptions, such as the Philadelphia public school system. Politicians, such as New York Mayor Eric Adams, have urged masking without calling for a specific mandate. 

According to Fortune Well, wastewater levels of COVID have reached their third-highest peak since the start of the pandemic.

“We have seen COVID cases go up. We’ve seen hospitalizations go up. Deaths are just starting to rise,” Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s pandemic response coordinator, told the press this week, per Fortune.

Experts speaking to Vox had safety tips for those worried about the tripledemic: Stay home when sick, get vaccinated, and wash your hands, in addition to renewed masking.

“Some of these viruses do aerosolize and fly through the air, but the majority of respiratory viruses are transmitted by what we call droplets, where people cough and sneeze and they land somewhere,” James Conway, a physician at the University of Wisconsin. “And then you touch that space and touch your own face. Wearing a mask is a way of keeping your hands away from your face. Hand hygiene is an extra layer.”

People are also advised to “set boundaries” with friends and family.

“I’ve been sort of pleased with some of the invitations I’ve received for social gatherings where people are saying their expectation is that everybody’s vaccinated,” Dr. Conway told Vox. “Where that would be considered provocative in the past, I think it is becoming a little bit more normalized.”

Meanwhile, the conservative City Journal offered the opposite take: “Ignore the ‘Tripledemic’ Hype.”

“Despite the hype, these three viral diseases are not surging simultaneously. RSV cases and hospitalization rates rose and peaked far earlier this year than normal but have been declining for the past month,” author Joel Zinberg said. “Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths had been down for months, only rising recently to relatively low levels. And the flu season—which typically runs from October to April, peaking in February—is, like RSV, happening much earlier than usual.”

The piece goes on to worry about “the return of pandemic-era controls,” although there doesn’t appear to be much political will to impose anything like that.

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Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.



  1. Infantry Grunt

    December 23, 2022 at 8:00 pm

    The far-left NYT as a source is not surprising for this “journalist”.

    None of this is surprising as the lockdowns downgraded everyone’s immunity levels. Wonder why there was no flu during Covid, that’s because every respiratory illness was coded as Covid. Many thousands died WITH Covid, but NOT OF Covid.

    Furthermore, the mRNA jab spike proteins have be shown to have an increased negative effect on your immune system. The more you take, the more likely you are to be susceptible to illness.

    BTW, studies have show that using paper and cloth masks for respiratory viruses is like using a chain-link fence to stop mosquitoes.

    When they can no longer control your lives with Fauci-funded gain-of-function Covid, they will move on to something like Man Caused Global Warming…

  2. 403Forbidden

    December 24, 2022 at 1:27 am

    Tripledemic hitting america PLUS a bomb cyclone bringing freezing temperatures to much of the citizenry or people, yet joe biden is more concerned with his war in europe.

    The tens of billions of taxpayers’ money going to europe and zelenskiyy’s pocket indicate old joe is incapable of caring for the american people, though he did say on aug 25 2022 during a democrat fundraising event that the MAGA GOP is a threat to the soul of america. Shows boe much he cares for the people.

    Democrat Party is clearly the fascist wing of the US uniparty conglomerate.

    GOP being the imperial wing or the pax americana wing.

  3. GhostTomahawk

    December 24, 2022 at 4:38 am

    Covid is a non factor at this point. Flu is bad. Both my kids had RSV that was miserable.

    Get it right.

  4. Omega 13

    December 30, 2022 at 11:39 am

    What an enormous NOTHINGBURGER!

    Does the author also write for Buzzfeed? Jeez.

  5. Dan Jenson

    January 9, 2023 at 9:42 pm

    The COVID psy op of fear against the American people and the forced vaccination is an unforgivable crime. Any entity that opposes the government that took my right to vote, speak and work and that ruined my health with an experimental vaccine is GOOD. God save us from authoritarianism.

  6. Steven Naslund

    February 6, 2023 at 4:30 am

    So, in other words. Hiding under your bed and wearing masks endlessly makes your normal immune system weak. Kids went back to school and were all exposed to RSV and the flu for the first time in years and got sick all at once (which might have something to do with all going back to school together).

    Seems like an expected outcome. Look at China’s zero COVID policy that resulted a massive outbreak as soon as it was lifted. Do you really want us to repeat ALL of their mistakes?

    My advice for the COVIDIANS, just go ahead and stay home and wear your masks all you want and leave the rest of us alone. Darwin will eventually prove one group wrong and you will get your wish or become extinct. Americans are not going to go for this again now that all the studies show that masks and lockdowns did not work. I thought we “follow the science” but what if the science shows you were wrong?

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