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Doctors expect COVID, flu, RSV infections to spike after holiday gatherings

New warnings from doctors as post-holiday spike of respiratory infections are expected to increase
New warnings from doctors as post-holiday spike of respiratory infections are expected to increase 02:29

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Hospitals are packed with sick patients, as the surge of respiratory infections continues to grow. It's the post-holiday spike of COVID, flu and RSV and it's expected to increase.

Doctors have said now that people are back to work and school after the holidays, the infections are expected to become even more widespread.

"Tired and I feel horrible," Brittany Huggins said.

28-year-old Huggins, who lives in Medford, New Jersey, is in the emergency department because of shortness of breath and a fever.

"I'm definitely concerned because I am pregnant and I have a 3-year-old at home," she said.

The new year has brought a new surge of COVID, flu and RSV linked to holiday gatherings.

"We did a little Christmas party and ever since then I haven't been feeling good," Huggins said.

The emergency department at Virtua Voorhees has been slammed with patients with respiratory illnesses.

"In the five to seven days after that exposure we see people coming into the emergency department with fever, chills, coughs, colds, headaches, viral-like illness," Dr. Charles Nolte said.

Dr. Nolte, the medical director at Virtua Voorhees, said part of the reason for the COVID spike is that vaccination rates are at an all-time low. Less than 20% of adults have received the updated booster.

INTERVIEW: Dr. Charles H. Nolte talks about new surge of respiratory infections post-holidays 04:09

"Typical for us is the days leading up to New Year's Eve is a big spike and then a second slightly larger spike is usually in the week after New Years," Dr. Nolte said.

Dr. Nolte said hospitals everywhere are struggling with the growing number of patients. Wait times are growing and there's a scramble to find enough beds.

"It's an emergency department, we see the sickest first," Dr. Nolte said.

Dr. Nolte said that being up to date on vaccinations is always important. Right now, masking in crowded indoor environments is the best way to guard against infection.

"I'm a big fan of masks," he said. "It is very effective in preventing transmission."

Dr. Nolte said if you're sick, please stay home.

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