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‘Tripledemic’ pushing Georgia’s children’s hospitals to the brink

GEORGIA — The so-called “Tripledemic” continues to hit Georgia.

For most of the fall, children’s hospitals have been at or near capacity, with cases of flu, COVID-19, and RSV. Now, doctors fear the holidays could make the situation worse.

“I’m also really concerned that after the Thanksgiving holidays, we may see an increase again,” said Dr. Andi Shane, an infectious disease specialist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “For the most part, our intensive care units — which is where children go who require special support for breathing — have been very, very full.”

A CDC tracker of RSV, a respiratory virus that hits young children especially hard, shows a slight decline in cases in Georgia in recent days, but now Shane told me she’s starting to see a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases.

It’s a sign the triple threat may continue to push hospitals to the brink.

“It’s been scary,” said Fiona Desenberg, a mother in West Cobb.

She worries about what the situation could mean for her 6-year-old son. Born with lung issues, he’s at high risk for respiratory viruses. He has already had RSV twice, with one of those cases keeping him in the hospital for five days.

“It’s very nerve-wracking to see beds being full and knowing he’s at a higher risk of needing one of those beds,” said Desenberg.

For now, she’s homeschooling her son, in part to keep him away from the “Tripledemic.”

“You feel like they’re sick all the time right now. It’s one virus to the next, to the next. And it is scary not knowing if he’ll be able to handle the next one,” said Desenberg.

Doctors encourage children to wash their hands as often as possible, to reduce their chances of getting RSV. Currently, there is no RSV vaccine.

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