NEW YORK (PIX11) — Amid what some have called a tripledemic, health officials say hospitals are dealing with an alarming surge in RSV cases on top of flu and COVID patients. 

Some New York City and Long Island children’s hospitals are seeing as much as a 50 percent increase in cases of RSV or respiratory syncytial virus. The peak in RSV cases is usually in late December or January. 

But an alarming number of children under the age of two are coming in to emergency rooms right now, in early December, having difficulty breathing. 

“We have never seen in RSV surge like the one we are having our emergency rooms. We have been almost overwhelmed,” Dr. Charles Schleien, Northwell Health’s pediatrics chair, said. “We used to see 200 children a day. Now we are seeing 300 children a day.”

At Northwell’s Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center, officials have had to open a special annex to their emergency room and add another 75 beds in the last few weeks. There are also staffing shortages. Doctors say finding enough respiratory therapists has been a challenge. 

Surprisingly, they say two years of masks and social distancing may be contributing to the surge. 

“These babies that were born over the last year, year and a half, probably didn’t have a rise in antibodies,” Dr. Schleien said. “That could be one of the reasons we have this surge.”

Dr. Schleien joined Sen. Chuck Schumer to say that with RSV and flu season converging on top of lingering COVID cases, the federal government needs to step in to help. 

“I am calling on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to be at the ready to help to take these cases,” Schumer (D-NY) said at a news conference. “HHS has the authority to help in scenarios like this.”