COVID-19: Arizona medical expert speaks out on what people can expect from the virus this winter

As we head into the ‘Season of Sickness,’ we are also taking a look at how COVID-19 could impact us this year.

While transmission of the virus continues to ebb and flow, experts say the good news is the latest COVID-19 variant, while more infectious, is less lethal.

"I don’t think it's going to be COVID that makes this season worse," said Will Humble, Executive Director for the Arizona Public Health Association.

Humble has been keeping his eyes on all things viruses lately.

"With a lot more people being infected, there will be more hospitalizations, but not the hospital crunch that we kept talking about in 2020 and 2021. Nothing even close to that," said Humble.

Outlooks for COVID during the autumn months project slightly higher hospitalization rates.

"I think it’s a pretty good bet that we will have a run-up in cases, starting at Thanksgiving and going up into January, February," said Humble. "I also think it’s a really good bet that we are not going to see a big increase in hospitalizations."

Humble explained why he does not expect a big hike in hospitalizations.

"So many people have gotten vaccinated or been infected or been infected more than once, that their immune systems have seen this virus before, and so they have some antibody and t-cell protection, which prevents it from turning into a serious disease. The second thing is this virus has followed a typical pattern of natural selection for a virus, which is it becomes more transmissible and less lethal overtime," said Humble.

Humble also predicts RSV won’t be as bad as last years. In fact, new advancements have been put in place to combat it.

"There’s a brand new vaccine for people over 60 for RSV, which is going to help, and there’s a new recommendation and a new -- it's not a vaccine, but a medication for newborns that they can get an infusion, which helps them protect against infections in the first 6 months of life," said Humble.

Humble also said he is in touch with the major hospitals almost daily, and currently, hospital officials are telling Humble that they are swamped with heat-related illnesses, instead of COVID, flu or RSV.