New Omicron subvariant responsible for national surge in COVID-19 cases

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 12:03 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A new Omicron variant is responsible for a national surge in COVID-19 cases. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in Georgia there are over 26,000 cases and in Alabama over 16,000.

According to a doctor our Reagan Ranzer spoke with, he says the new Omicron variant known as BA.5 is responsible for 80 percent of COVID cases. He says this variant is more transmissible than others seen in the past.

It’s reported to be more infectious than previous subvariants. According to the CDC, they average 123,000 cases a day in the United States and 34 percent have only their first booster dose.

According to Dr. Wes Stubblefield with Alabama Public Health, Omicron is a family of viruses and when it produces minor changes it becomes a subvariant that is trying to invade your immune system. He says BA.5 makes itself less noticeable to the immune system in order to get through.

“It is more contagious in general, but it also tends to invade the immunity that we’ve had from previous infection and/or vaccination,” said Dr. Stubblefield.

According to the COVID-19 county map, our Alabama viewing area counties from Barbour, Russell, and Chambers are all high-risk community levels with Lee County not far behind. In Georgia, Muscogee County is also at high risk with currently 448 positive cases. Infection Prevention Director, Brooke Bailey, says the BA.5 is highly transmissible.

“Vaccination is not going to prevent from someone necessarily getting COVID, the whole purpose is to decrease the risk of patients and people having to go to the doctor and be admitted to the hospital for severe illness,” said Bailey.

Bailey says those infected with the BA.5 subvariant are experiencing cold and flu-like symptoms, which is exactly how resident Mallory Cobb felt today after receiving the news that she just tested positive for COVID-19.

“My COVID test came back positive even though I’ve had all three of my vaccines and I’ve already had COVID,” said Cobb. “My symptoms aren’t terrible - they just feel like the common cold.”

Officials say COVID-19 vaccines protect you from severe symptoms. They also recommend wearing masks in small areas to help prevent and protect yourself from getting COVID and recommend you get all vaccines and booster shots.

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