Unusual Summer Surge in Common Colds Following COVID-19 Rules Easing

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While it’s not the usual time of the year for lots of sneezing, sniffling and coughing, many parents are bringing their kids to PM Pediatrics to be treated for respiratory infections – like the common cold.

It has offices in West Hartford and Manchester.

“We have been surprisingly busy for the summertime,” said Dr. Christina Johns, PM Pediatrics senior medical advisor. “The volume has been slowly building over the last, oh, maybe six weeks or so.”

That’s just about when state relaxed COVID-related rules.

Soon, people started to hang out more and take off their masks.

“At the peak of the pandemic when everyone was staying home and everyone was in a mask. Gosh, it sure was nice not to catch colds and not to see a significant flu season. And that's because masks work. But now we're starting to see more gatherings, less masking, and that means more of the virus is starting to circulate,” said Johns.

While people wondered if maybe our immune systems have weakened during the pandemic, Johns believes we have good immune memory and it’s simply a matter of exposure now.

There is another issue that Dr. David Banach from UConn Health points out.

“I think it can be very difficult to distinguish between these common cold respiratory viruses and COVID,” said Banach, UConn Health’s hospital epidemiologist.

Right now, children under age 12 remain a vulnerable group with no COVID-19 vaccine authorized for them and the Delta variant spreading quickly.

And even among those vaccinated, the symptoms of COVID-19 tend to be more mild possibly mimicking a cold.

Pfizer and BioNTech say a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine could extend protection against the virus.

“I think my general messages that if there's concern go get tested. There's a lot of testing available here in Connecticut, and you know, I think it's the best way to get you an answer,” said Banach.

Experts say it’s hard to tell how long this increase will last and what it will mean for the fall.

For now, they advise you to try and stay healthy by washing your hands often, keeping your distance if possible and trying to throw events outside.

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