MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Concerns of an after-Thanksgiving surge of a “tripledemic” have become a new reality as hospitals in the Mid-South and across the country are seeing a rising number of flu, RSV and COVID-19 cases.

Inside many Memphis area hospitals, the so-called triple threat virus is leading to crowded emergency rooms and doctor’s offices. City Councilman Dr. Jeff Warren is also a family physician working in a healthcare facility where he’s masking up.

“We’ve got three things going on. It’s in our area, but also nationwide. It’s a combination of RSV virus, which seems to be on the wane, but also, we got waxing, we got flu and we got COVID,” Warren said.

The Shelby County Health Department says Influenza-like illness activity is high. Their surveillance data for Dec. 6 shows the percentage of emergency department visits for influenza-like illness last week was 7.6%. This is higher than the 2.4% seen this time last year and a new concern could be looming.

“So, we got a lot of influenza out there and the COVID Omicron, we’re worried that there’s a new variant that seems to be escaping the booster that we got out in September,” Warren said.

That’s especially alarming for some of the most vulnerable, those 65 and older, and at a time when holiday gatherings are fast approaching. Doctors recommend getting screened for the flu and COVID.

“A lot of the pharmacies have mini-clinics that can do screenings for flu and COVID. Your doctor’s office, I know at our office, we screen our own patients. We have them drive up and we go outside, and we screen them in their cars, and then we run the test to see where they are and call the medicine in for them,” Warren said.

As for booster shots and being in crowded settings, the advice remains the same.

“You need to get your booster,” Warren said. “That’s the main thing you can do and if you’re in a situation where you are around a lot of people and people are coughing and they look sick, put your mask on and if you are sick, don’t go out.”

Doctors say the flu vaccine is quite effective this year. But it takes about two weeks for full protection to kick in.