Local hospitals report flu & RSV patient spikes due to mask decline

Hospitals seen patient uptick following Halloween

GLASGOW, Ky. – You may have noticed that we are in our first fall season in two years… without a mask mandate.

Local urgent care clinic Fast Pace Health as well as T.J. Sampson’s pediatrics, say the lack of masking is already affecting the spread of viruses this year. Both report seeing virtually no flu cases during the pandemic.

T.J. Regional Health Pavilion pediatrician Dr. Beth Brooks said, “The last couple of years we’ve been doing a lot more masking than we had in the past. So, we definitely saw a decrease in those respiratory virus illnesses.”

However, that number is already starting to climb again this fall, the two healthcare practices reporting patient counts back to pre-pandemic levels.

Fast Pace Health Senior Regional Director of Operations Barry Taylor, “Particularly the last three weeks to a month, we’ve really seen a drastic increase in the number of patients presenting with flu-like symptoms…. Same thing for the RSV this year.”

“This year, masks have been pulled back in a lot of places,” added Brooks. “And we do expect that to increase [the number of respiratory illnesses] as well.”

Dr. Brooks says ever since Halloween trick-or-treating and candy swapping their pediatrics office has been a revolving door… and she says the influx is only just beginning.

“Looking forward, those family events that are coming up like Thanksgiving where we all get inside eat that good food, we do kind of expect some germs to be shared then and a little bump in cases at that time also,” said Brooks.

In light of how heavily the CDC pushed for COVID vaccinations, Taylor questions where the big push for flu shots is now.

“Previously, we made a big push to get people vaccinated against the flu, and I haven’t really seen that this year from the CDC or others,” noted Taylor. “So, I would also encourage people to make sure you do get that flu vaccine unless you have allergies or other contraindications to getting that vaccine.”

Other preventative measures Brooks and Taylor say you can take include: wash your hands, cover your cough, stay at home if you’re feeling sick, and use your best judgment.

Brooks said, “If you are going into places with a high risk of getting sick or if you yourself may have been exposed, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put those masks back on.”