High Levels of Respiratory Infections are Straining Local Healthcare Systems
[Medford, Oregon] —With an unusually early and high level of influenza (flu), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and an increase in COVID-19, hospital systems in the Rogue Valley are experiencing a high volume of patients requiring emergency services. This increase is causing a strain on local hospital systems. Asante, Providence, Jackson Public Health, and Josephine County Public Health are collaborating on the surge of respiratory infections impacting the local healthcare system.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has extended last month’s state of emergency as a surge of respiratory illnesses strains the state’s hospital systems. The executive order calls on the Oregon Health Authority and other state agencies to deploy emergency volunteer healthcare workers and designate emergency health centers. It also allows state agencies to develop new procedures or waive existing ones to alleviate the public health threat.
Because of the high volume of patients requiring emergency services at this time, caregivers and families may experience long wait times in local emergency departments. It remains critical that people do not delay care if they are experiencing a medical emergency. Except when emergency care is needed, it is highly recommended that families and caregivers call their primary care providers with their health concerns first before accessing care through emergency departments. Urgent care centers are an option for urgent healthcare needs that do not warrant emergency services. However, urgent, immediate, and primary care appointments may take longer to schedule due to the surge of respiratory infections.
We encourage our communities to take preventative action to keep themselves and loved ones healthy this season and help alleviate the strain on the local hospitals. Understandably, many are tired of hearing about viruses and taking precautions to prevent the spread of these viruses.
Asante, Providence, Jackson County Public Health, and Josephine County Public Health would like to thank the community for taking preventive actions during this flu season and for their continued support and patience.
Take Four Actions to Protect Against Flu and Other Respiratory Infections
Take the time to get vaccinated. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions. Vaccination is particularly important for people at higher risk of severe complications from the flu. Get your COVID-19 booster the same day. It’s safe and convenient to get your flu shot and your COVID-19 vaccine or booster at the same time!
Flu and COVID-19 vaccination have important benefits. It can prevent illness, visits to the doctor’s office, and missed work and school, as well as make symptoms less severe and reduce hospitalizations.
People 6 months and older can access the flu vaccine through their medical provider, Jackson County Public Health, Josephine County Public Health, and many pharmacies. To find a flu and COVID-19 vaccine clinic near you, visit https://www.vaccines.gov/find-vaccines/, or call 1-800-232-0233 or 211 information.
Take everyday recommended preventive actions to reduce the spread of the flu and other respiratory infections.
Wear a mask indoors in public places throughout the flu season.
Stay home and limit contact with others if you are sick, including staying home from work or school when you are sick. The CDC recommends that people stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone unless they are accessing medical care. The CDC recommends staying home for at least 5 days after a COVID-19 diagnosis, followed by wearing a mask for the next 5 days when in public.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Wash hands with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may have flu germs on them.
3. Get tested for respiratory infections
Have a plan ahead of time for how you will get tested if you develop sickness so that you can access testing and treatment quickly should the need arise.
People can have more than one respiratory infection at once.
It is important not to use emergency departments for respiratory infection testing if it is not an emergency—access respiratory testing services through your primary care provider or urgent care centers.
4. Take flu antiviral drugs or COVID-19 treatment if your doctor prescribes them.
Flu antiviral drugs can make flu illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For people with higher risk factors, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay. The earlier treatment is started, the more effective it is.
If you are at higher risk for developing severe complications from the flu and get flu symptoms, call your healthcare provider early so you can be treated with flu antivirals if needed. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this medication.
If you test positive and are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19, treatments are available that can reduce your chances of being hospitalized or dying from the disease. Medications to treat COVID-19 must be prescribed by a healthcare provider and started as soon as possible after diagnosis to be effective. Oregon Health Authority (OHA) now offers free telehealth visits statewide for those at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness through Color Health. Telehealth visit hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Consultation is offered in 17 languages. You can visit OHA’s COVID-19 treatments page or call Color at 833-273-6330 for more information.
What are the Emergency Warning Signs of the flu?
Most people with the flu will have a mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.
If you have flu symptoms and are in a higher-risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your healthcare provider (doctor, physician assistant, etc.). If you need help finding a medical provider, call 211.
People experiencing any of these warning signs should obtain medical care right away. These lists are not all-inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other severe or concerning symptoms.
In children: fast breathing or trouble breathing, bluish lips or face, ribs pulling in with each breath, chest pain, severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk), dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying), not alert or interacting when awake, seizures, fever above 104°F, in children less than 12 weeks any fever (100.4°F or higher), fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen, worsening of chronic medical conditions.
In adults: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse, seizures, not urinating, severe muscle pain, severe weakness or unsteadiness, fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen, worsening of chronic medical conditions.