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Santa Clara County announces first flu death of the season

Santa Clara County announces first flu death of the season
Santa Clara County announces first flu death of the season 00:29

SANTA CLARA -- An adult with underlying health conditions has become the first Santa Clara County resident to die as a result of being infected with influenza.

County health officials did not identify the victim, but said the individual had not been vaccinated against the flu.

"Getting the flu shot every year is the best way to avoid getting influenza and prevent severe flu symptoms," officials said in a news release. "Masking indoors also helps prevent flu and other respiratory viruses from spreading."

Across the county, flu cases are on the rise and beginning to fill up emergency rooms. On Tuesday, Santa Clara County Executive Jeffrey Smith stood outside of Valley Medical Center and raised the alarm to reporters over a  trifecta of viruses -- COVID, influenza and RSV -- taxing local health services.

MORE: What is RSV and why is it a threat to your child

Smith said flu cases have caused emergency rooms to be overloaded, putting strain on intensive care units. Stanford's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital is at a level 3 alert -- one short of where "they start putting tents out in the front of the hospital" in order to treat infected children.

Meanwhile in San Francisco, Chopper 5 was over UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, which has already added a treatment tent to its facility. The Mission Bay campus has 17 emergency room beds, the tent adds another seven.

Judie Boehmer, the hospital's chief nursing officer, told KPIX 5 those beds will hold kids who are "less ill." She also said most of the children they're seeing are under 15 months old, though RSV is also especially dangerous for seniors.

"Remember, now the weather is colder, so we're not outside in our gatherings as much. We're more inside, where we are more closed in. and there isn't that good circulation," Boehmer said. 

Health officials also urged local residents to get a COVID booster and a well as a flu vaccination shot as we head into the holiday gathering season.

"The holiday time period is really a risky period," Smith told reporters. "We've seen spikes in the last two years, spikes right after Thanksgiving and Christmas. So it's important to realize COVID is not gone."

"What is going on is that two other viruses are hitting us at the same time," he continued. "The flu virus, which comes every year, has this year come earlier and more potently."  

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