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Flu and COVID-19 cases up across North Texas, doctors say "it's expected at holidays"

Flu and COVID-19 cases up across North Texas, doctors say "it's expected at holidays"
Flu and COVID-19 cases up across North Texas, doctors say "it's expected at holidays" 02:17

FORT WORTH - The holiday season may be coming to an end, but there are plenty of illnesses still lingering. 

North Texas hospitals are reporting an increase in both flu and COVID-19 cases right now, and they expect the numbers to continue to rise over the next few weeks as a result of holiday gatherings and travel. 

"We've seen an uptick in our influenza-like illnesses that are coming through the doors, COVID too," said Dr. Jay Herd, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth. "Both of them are on the rise, which is expected at the holidays with families getting together." 

According to the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, there were less than 300 patients hospitalized with COVID in this area in early November. Over the weekend, there were more than 600. 

"What I'm hearing about RSV is it's leveled off and going down, but it's still around," said Stephen Love, president and CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council. "So if you add all three of those together – plus other respiratory illnesses – we're at a pretty high level this early in winter." 

Health experts say it's not cause for panic, but rather a good reminder for people to practice good hygiene. Things like washing your hands frequently, using hand sanitizer, and wearing a mask in large crowds will help prevent the spread of COVID, the flu, and all the other viruses. 

"I think we all are desperate to be out with our friends, be out socializing again after the pandemic, but we want to be thoughtful of the big picture," said Dr. Donna Casey, an internist at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. 

Doctors say it's imperative to keep children home from school or avoid going back to the office if you're symptomatic. 

"I think taking your temperature is a good idea because some people say, 'Oh, I only have allergies, it's just Texas allergies,'" Dr. Casey said. "Well, if you've got a temperature, it's not Texas allergies." 

Doing an at-home COVID test or going to a clinic to see if you have the flu can help pinpoint the best course of treatment. 

"If it's mild, you can usually ride it out at home," said Dr. Herd. "But if you can't hold down fluids, your fever gets very high and Tylenol is not bringing it down… then you may need to come in and get seen and you may have to be admitted." 

Doctors say it's not too late in the season to get your flu shot. If you haven't caught the bug yet, the vaccine has proven to be effective at helping prevent hospitalizations for the virus. 

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