The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment gave its COVID-19 dashboard an updated look Wednesday. The new data portal will also feature weekly updates to Colorado’s COVID-19 case numbers.
This comes amid increasing cases in three viruses: Influenza, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Flu season has begun — as have the COVID and RSV seasons — but Colorado may be faring better than other parts of the nation so far.
“There’s parts of the U.S. where we are seeing pretty rapidly increasing influenza transmission levels, especially in the southeast part of the U.S.,” Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, said. “We’re not quite there in Colorado yet, but we’re definitely seeing an increasing trend.”
While the trend is up, Herlihy said it is still typical influenza levels for this time of year. The department’s concern lies with RSV.
“RSV is what is really standing out to us right now... transmission levels are pretty high — unusually high — for this time year,” she said. “That’s the challenge with RSV right now, there’s no vaccine. There are vaccines in development.”
Those vaccines likely won’t be ready for distribution until next RSV season, she said. While flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines are readily available, they are one strand in the complicated public health web.
Health experts say some of the best practices residents can do are those we’ve been told time and time again: Stay at home if you feel sick, cover your cough, and avoid touching your face. Herlihy said one of the best things people can do now is limit the spread now to hopefully take the strain off our healthcare system later on.
“Some of the strategies, especially for preserving our healthcare system, include things like preventing influenza and COVID, where we do have vaccines,” she said. “So as we have strain on our healthcare system right now, we want to prevent those other respiratory infections which are probably coming down the pike in the next couple of weeks.”
Though case loads are trending up, Herlihy says it’s tough to know exactly what the future holds. Herlihy says watching other countries in the Southern Hemisphere, like Australia, can be helpful, but added it’s not always a perfect metric. Some countries weathered their winter months far better than Australia in terms of infectious diseases.
“It’s really difficult to say exactly what we’re going to see,” she said. “But I think what we want at this point is to be as prepared as we can.”