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Flu and RSV cases on the rise as holiday traveling season begins, health officials say

Posted at 6:30 AM, Nov 18, 2023
  • Flu and RSV cases have doubled since the start of the month. COVID-19 cases are also expected to increase
  • Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports more than 105 RSV hospitalizations since Nov. 1
  • Health experts suggest several ways to prevent the risk of illness during the holiday season.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Tis the season for holiday fun with family and friends, which also means the increased chance of getting sick.

"COVID-19, RSV, and influenza all circulating all at the same time," Tom Haupt, of the Department of Health Services, said. "Our number of hospitalizations have increased significantly and doubled also for both RSV and flu."

RSV case numbers were first reported starting Nov. 1 and at this point the number of hospitalizations have reached more than 105.

Haupt said RSV and flu cases across the state have nearly doubled in the past few weeks.

Even without the pandemic, Katie Harris, Thedacare Physicians-Appleton North Advanced Practice Clinician, says COVID-19 is still an issue as well.

Harris gave advice for you and your loved ones to stay well.

"We want people to stay safe, and hand wash and stay up-to-date on their immunizations so that they can participate in everything they can this holiday season," Harris said. "People want to be around other people in the holidays and I think that's fair and we are advocates for that. We want you to be able to have that socialization and see the people that you care about most, but we want you to do it safely."

For the holiday travel rush, Mark Piette, Airport director at the Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport, said holiday traveling will be up 15% compared to last year at this time. He said masked are not required for travel.

"Our recommendation from a health standpoint is whatever you're comfortable with," Piette said. "Follow the CDC guidelines, follow the local health department guidelines."

Abe Weber, Airport director at Appleton International Airport, said it's best to stay at home if you are not feeling way.

Matiyos Theilman is student catching a flight home and spoke what he was seeing at Michigan Tech.

"I carry hand sanitizer with me all the time," Theilman said. "(At school) everyone was a little sick, staying at home and staying in their dorm."

Harris said people should consider the following staying well during the winter months:

  • Limit alcohol use
  • Manage stress
  • Healthy eating
  • Prioritize sleep

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day is always a busy travel day. Delta employees said they’re expecting a huge traveling day for this area.
Piette said the airport is continuing to focus on training employees and having enough materials to keep every space clean.