HIDALGO COUNTY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Nursing shortages continue to affect many hospitals across the Rio Grande Valley even while flu season continues.

Health professionals say the COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on the health system causing several shortages and the active flu season doesn’t help.

“We certainly did have nurses that were calling in sick, overwhelmed, and of course, they are going to use a mask after fatigue, that didn’t make it any easier,” Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez said.

Melendez says flu season usually begins around November. However, this year it started early and is expected to fizz out in April or sometime in early summer.

“As you know, when you couple RSV, COVID, flu season took a heavy toll on the hospital staff and on the medical staff in general, particularly the nurses which are the ones that are hands-on where the rubber hits the road,” Melendez said.

To combat these shortages, hospitals are offering higher wages for nurses which can help keep them in the profession. Health leaders say the community must take proactive measures to stay safe as the flu season continues so your loved ones can be protected.

“Early detection especially now that it will be available at home, a $20 test a nasal swab is going to be extremely helpful and if you are infected you must stay home until you’re no longer symptomatic it’s just as simple as that or you will infect other people,” Melendez said.