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COVID cases rising ahead of the holidays. Who should test -- and how to get free tests

Irene Wright, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in News & Features

As the holiday season brings families together, health experts are expecting cases of COVID-19 to rise.

In the week following Thanksgiving 2022, hospitalizations from the virus increased significantly despite a lull in the early fall, just as health experts have seen this year, CNN reported.

Emergency room visits for COVID-19 have increased 7% from late September until Nov. 11, suggesting a case spike is on the horizon, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In preparation, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it would again offer free COVID-19 testing kits delivered to your door beginning on Nov. 20.

Here’s what you need to know.

Is it COVID-19? The flu? RSV?


COVID-19 is just one pillar of the “tripledemic” making its way across the United States. The increase in cases aligns with both the annual flu season and the rise of RSV infections.

Many of the symptoms of all three respiratory illnesses overlap, so here’s how to tell the difference, according to the CDC.

Runny or stuffy nose, fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat, muscle pain, headache and vomiting are all symptoms of both COVID-19 and the flu.

However, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms are more frequent in the flu than with COVID-19.


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