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Carney and public health officials prepare for winter viruses, concerned for tridemic

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Governor John Carney, top left, DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik, top right, and Wilmington Pediatrician Dr. Priscilla Mpasi, bottom left, hold a virtual press conference on winter viruses.

Delaware’s Division of Public Health remains concerned about the possibility of a tridemic.

Gov. John Carney addressed that concern Monday, noting the spike in flu and RSV cases, along with low COVID booster and flu shot numbers.

Carney says COVID case numbers are not as reliable due to at-home testing, but hospitalizations, which were at 86 statewide as of last Wednesday, are accurate.

And while those COVID numbers are not alarming - he is concerned by the lack of people getting the bivalent booster– only 10.3% of Delawareans 18 and older have received it. He says that - combined with the prevalence of the flu and RSV - bears watching.

“We didn't have much of a flu season last year and the year before," Carney says. "Today we're seeing higher numbers with flu cases, 772 so far, 483 of those just in the last week. Our public health professionals will tell us this is early in the flu season, so there's more to come and we just want to be careful and cautious of that.”

Last year, Delaware’s first confirmed flu case didn’t appear until November. There have been 20 flu hospitalizations so far, and only 24.1% of Delaware’s population has their flu shot. There have also been over 500 cases of RSV this fall, 20% of which were logged in the last week.

“We are not in a peak situation right now," says Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Molly Magarik. "But this is the time of year that we have seen over the last two winters that we start to go up the hill to a peak.”

State health officials urge Delawareans to get the vaccines that are available - and Magarik suggests people consider using another tool that works for all viruses.

“When cases are high, we don't want people to feel embarrassed about wearing a mask," she says. "It is still okay. It is an important prevention tool to wear a mask. If either cases are high and you don’t want to get sick, you don't want to miss your really awesome post Christmas trip to the Bahamas? Wear a mask! Or again, if you're visiting relatives that are older or sick or immunocompromised, think about what you're potentially bringing to them.”

Carney and public health officials urge Delawareans to get vaccinated for COVID and flu, and stay home when sick. The Division of Public Health also reminds people to only go to the emergency room for emergencies. If you have COVID or flu symptoms, DPH suggests visiting your primary care doctor or a walk-in clinic.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.