Fall respiratory virus season to be very different than 2020

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Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 3:25 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) - In Wisconsin, COVID-19 restrictions have mostly relaxed across the state, but the truth is those measures of masks, social distancing and sanitizing have also given people a break from other respiratory illnesses.

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer, Department of Health Bureau of Communicable Diseases said Tuesday the fall respiratory virus season is going to be very different than the fall 2020 respiratory virus season.

“We don’t know what it’s going to be like for our communities or our population, essentially to have had a year off of being exposed and developing immunity to rhinovirus,  influenza virus and adenovirus and all of these other pathogens that tend to spread in the fall when school gets back in session,” Westergaard said.

He said this fall, in addition to COVID-19, there’s likely to be a lot of other viruses circulating that we really haven’t seen in the past year.

The measures that we’ve taken with staying home and physical distancing, and wearing masks were sufficient to really stomp out the spread of a lot of colds and flu viruses.

“The data we’re seeing is that those other respiratory viruses are already starting to march back,” he said. “It’s going to be critically important that anytime someone develops symptoms of a cold or flu that we test them.”

He said if testing is not a priority the signal of where and when Is COVID-19 spreading will be lost.

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