ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — State statistics are showing an increase in COVID positive numbers. With the fall and school season upon us, experts say we can expect to see a rise in respiratory illnesses. Our Capitol Correspondent, Amal Tlaige spoke with experts on how we can protect ourselves COVID and RSV.
The Department of Health is showing a steady uptick in COVID positive cases. 789 people tested positive in July, the highest since April. Bryon Backenson, Director of Bureau for Communicable Disease Control at the Department of Health weighed in why we could be seeing the spike. “I think we’ve become a little blasé, I don’t think we necessarily think about it as much as we used to. I think some of our defenses, we’ve let them down a little bit as time has worn on. People aren’t testing as much.”
Backenson said the newest COVID variant, EG 5.1 is a member of the Omicron family. “Symptom wise it doesn’t seem to be remarkably different from some of the more recent ones we’ve dealt with, but it does appear to be more contagious,” said Backenson. With an increase in cases he advises those who are showing symptoms to test themselves, try not to be around others and don’t go to work. He also wants New Yorkers to remain in the know about RSV, which usually impacts infants or the elderly. “One of the issues with regards to RSV is being able to detect it… five years ago we didn’t know about as many RSV cases because there weren’t as many laboratories testing for it. Testing for RSV now has become incredibly common,” he explained.
Symptoms for RSV can be cold-like but lead to severe infections such as bronchiolitis. The Department announced a plan to allow pharmacies to administer a new RSV vaccine to those 60 and older which will launch soon. “We would like to ask people in that age group, particularly if you have other comorbidities or other medical problems, to talk to your provider about whether or not a vaccine for RSV is right for you. There’s also a couple of different things that are about to come out or have just come out for a treatment for either infants or for pregnant women,” said Backenson. You can visit health.ny.gov to learn more about RSV, Covid or the flu.