ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — The number of respiratory illnesses is skyrocketing across the Finger Lakes region, with nearly three thousand cases in Monroe County this year alone. With the hospital system overburdened trying to keep up with new cases, Senator Chuck Schumer is calling on the government to help.

Dr. Stephen Cook with Golisano Children’s Hospital says with Respiratory Syncytial Virus, they’re seeing a lot of cases. “It’s very concerning– but it’s important to understand what each disease does,” said Cook.

RSV he says affects all of us, but it hits adults and kids differently. “The age group we worry about– are kids under one year, especially under six months. Those are the ones who get the sickest,” said Cook.

RSV starts out feeling like a cold, then it becomes a respiratory problem with conditions lasting weeks. Cook says there’s another concern here for hospitals. “It’s coming way earlier than we normally see it. And we’re seeing flu now at the same time,” he said.

The hospital system he said is short on staff. Friday, Senator Chuck Schumer, D-NY, called on the US Department of Health and Human Services to do more for our region. 

“…we need our hospitals in upstate New York, and in rural New York in particular, to have the resources they need without getting overwhelmed,” said Schumer.

Cook says as the season progresses, the extra support will be needed. “Our call volume is probably twice what it normally is, and we’re trying to accommodate that,” he said.

Cook added it would help more if HHS would have Medicaid payments, which mostly cover kids, be the same as Medicare payments. Cook did say thankfully yet this season we have not seen any deaths caused by RSV or the flu.