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Respiratory viruses are still circulating widely in Arizona

Respiratory viruses are still circulating widely in Arizona. The  Arizona Department of Health Services confirmed 3,094 influenza cases last week — that's more than double what’s expected for this time of year.

Meanwhile, the state confirmed 1,437 RSV cases, which is more than four times higher than average.

COVID-19 is currently widespread too, with hospitalizations jumping 22% in the last week of December,  according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Everybody should be concerned about these numbers," said Dr. Kiran Raman, medical director with the division of public health preparedness with the state health department.

Raman said fortunately, all three virus caseloads appear to be trending downward from their winter peaks, but she said it’s too soon for Arizonans to let their guard down.

"Even though those numbers are dropping, we are well above the average that we typically see during the fall and winter months," Raman said. “Certainly for the next few weeks I would still expect to see high numbers of RSV, high numbers of flu.” 

Raman recommends everyone get a flu shot and an updated COVID-19 vaccine. There are also now  new RSV vaccines available for adults over 60, pregnant women and some infants.

"The best thing is to protect your family and your loved ones by taking those common-sense precautions," Raman said. 

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent. She has produced work for NPR, New England Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, PRI's The World, Washington Post, Reuters and more.She has a master’s degree in radio journalism from the USC Annenberg School of Journalism.She lives in central Phoenix with her husband, two daughters, and ill-behaved cat and dog. Her side-passions include photography, crosswords and hot sauce.