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Doctors reporting surge in COVID cases on top of the worst flu season we've seen in years

Doctors say one of the best ways to avoid getting any of these viruses is to get your vaccines.

NEW ORLEANS — There are a lot of viruses going around right now. Doctors say covid cases, flu, and RSV are all on the rise. In fact, they say it’s the worst flu season in five years. 

Doctors say part of the reason there’s a spike in multiple respiratory illnesses all at once is because we’ve taken measures to avoid COVID for the past few years.

“Now you have no good antibody response, so people are getting very sick because they have to make new antibodies to the new variants of flu and RSV,” WWL medical analyst Corey Herbert said.  

“Over the past couple of years, we did a good job with all the COVID mitigation measures in keeping people away from others who are ill, so we haven’t had the exposure to some of the illnesses over the years. In our kids especially and our young children, we’re seeing a lot of respiratory viruses because they haven’t been exposed to this; they’ve been at home they maybe weren’t in school,” Medical Director of Emergency Management, Dr. Jeffrey Elder said.  

Doctors say they know everyone is tired of trying to fight off COVID, but it’s still important to continue trying to avoid any illness.  

“You’re not just staying away and keeping away and wearing a mask for yourself, you’re wearing it for other people, so you don’t spread those illnesses,” Herbert said.  

Most of these viruses have very similar and sometimes the same, symptoms, like cough, sore throat, fatigue, and fever, so the only way to determine exactly what you have and therefore how to treat it, is to get tested.  

“With COVID, you can remain a carrier in transmitting the virus even after you’ve improved and your symptoms are better, so that’s why it’s important to test for covid,” Dr. Elder said.  

Doctors suggest at-home COVID tests but say to make sure you follow directions and check that the test isn’t expired. If a test is expired, you can get a false result. Some that were distributed by the government may have an extended shelf life. You can check by inputting the test’s lot number into the CDC website.

You can still get at-home COVID tests with some health insurances, including Medicare.  

If you can’t though experts still suggest buying them.  

“More than likely you’re going to have to go to one of your retailers and buy a test right now. I’m telling you it’s worth it, you need to know before you go to that Christmas dinner or that New Year’s Eve party if you have COVID. You don’t want to spread this because no matter what,  the numbers are high, and people can still die and the thing about it is if it’s rare for someone to die if it happens to you it’s still 100%,” Herbert said.  

If you use an at-home test, doctors suggest testing at least twice, one day apart, for the most accurate results.  

Doctors say one of the best ways to avoid getting any of these viruses is to get your vaccines. They suggest the first round of COVID vaccines for those who have not yet had it, a booster if you had, and a flu shot for everyone eligible.  

“It does take two weeks to then have that effectiveness for the vaccine, so now is the time you want to run and get that vaccine immediately because Christmas is upon us we’re all gathering we’re having our pre-holiday gatherings,” Dr. Katherine Baumgarten, Medical Director for Infection Prevention at Ochsner Health, said.  

She says even if you’ve had the flu, you should still get the flu shot. There can be multiple strains of the flu circulating, and the vaccine can keep you safe from a lot of them. Experts also say you can not get the flu from the flu vaccine.  


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