The Rise of the Tripledemic
In 2020 and 2021 the ‘twindemic,’ a combination of COVID-19 and flu, did not reach the levels infectious disease experts expected due to measures like social distancing and masking. In 2022, the twindemic has arrived with a third pathogen, concerning physicians, scientists, health professionals and parents alike. The Winter 2022-2023 ‘tripledemic’ – COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – is on the rise, spreading across the country and filling up hospital beds, particularly in pediatric departments.
Current omicron subvariants are accompanied by an elevated and early flu season and a rise in RSV; three pathogens that historically do not surge simultaneously. As of December 2022, COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen1 and there are approximately 300,000 new COVID-19 cases per week2. Flu hospitalizations have spiked by 74% with at least 8.7 million cases of flu3, and hospitalization rates for RSV are much higher than in the past4. As people gather indoors and travel for the holidays, it is crucial that health professionals, facilities and medical supply distributors stay ahead of these pathogens and the expected care influx to ensure patient safety this winter.
All three viral infections produce similar symptoms like fever, cough, runny nose or headaches. They also all come with the possibility for severe complications if adequate precautions are not taken seriously, and it is important for healthcare professionals and patients to protect themselves this winter.
Appropriate Masks Offer the Right Protection for You and Your Employees
It has been proven that masking is an easy and highly effective way to protect against COVID-19, but it is also effective in protecting against other viral infections like flu and RSV that are transmitted through droplets.
The first step in effective masking is making sure you have the right masks on hand to properly protect you and your employees. While mask guidance continues to evolve, N95 masks with level 3 splash and spray protection5, the highest recognized level of protection, are a great option for protecting against viruses and other pathogens. N95 masks are reliable6, regulated by various governing bodies and tested in depth to ensure proper protection for healthcare workers and their patients.
The second step in effective masking is making sure your staff is compliant with current industry and organizational guidance. Masks are only effective when healthcare providers follow the guidelines. Your team may require an educational refresher on masking standards around issues like re-wearing masks and when or when not to use certain mask types. A recent study by Owens & Minor found that two out of three healthcare provider respondents, including surgeons and surgical teams, indicated wearing masks for multiple procedures, which was up from nearly one out of two prior to the pandemic7.
The third step in effective masking is choosing the right partner to provide your staff with products that will keep them protected at the right time and in the right place. Working with a reliable distributor that operates on data driven solutions and has end-to-end control of its entire supply chain will only help your organization feel more prepared for whatever pathogen comes through the door this winter.
Be Prepared with Peace of Mind
Once you have followed all of the steps for effective masking, it is important to ensure your inventory consists of the proper masks, and enough masks, to face the anticipated demand tied to the current surge of respiratory viruses. Partnering with a distributor that has deep expertise in crisis situations, Americas-based manufacturing, reliable delivery and strong supplier relationships will help eliminate disruptions and ensure you can focus on meeting patient needs and protect your workforce.
With the anticipated tripledemic, healthcare providers should be prepared for what is ahead. Allow for optimal patient outcomes, and peace of mind, by equipping your employees with the right face masks and guidance in advance.
Contact Owens & Minor to ensure you are prepared and protected this winter.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – COVID Data Tracker
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report (FluView)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV) Interactive Dashboard
- Owens & Minor – Face Masks & N95 Respirators: FLUIDSHIELD* Surgical N95 Respirator Mask
- Owens & Minor – What’s The Difference: Surgical Masks vs N95 Respirators
- Owens & Minor – 2022 Surgical Mask Research Report. Data on File.