WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The BA.5 strain of the omicron variant of COVID-19 is not as severe as the Delta variant, but it currently makes up about 70% of the COVID-19 cases in New Hanover County.
The county’s level of transmission was updated on Friday as cases are increasing coming off of the Fourth of July holiday and more people are traveling during the summer months.
Leaders say they expect these numbers to go even higher over the next week or so as data from the Fourth of July weekend comes in.
“It will paint a bigger picture for us in the future, to better understand holidays like this and Memorial Day beforehand where we saw a lot of increase as well. And that’s something that we’re definitely taking into account that what we’re seeing right now is a little bit of a delay in data coming in from the state as well,” New Hanover County’s epidemiologist Ian Appling said. “It’s definitely increased significantly. We’re expecting there to be an increase in cases. So currently, the one thing that we’re seeing a larger amount of is symptomatic cases come in more recently, especially at the Pandemic Operations Center, during the testing days that we have, in comparison to previously where there is, I would say, a large amount of asymptomatic cases.”
Appling says if you are vaccinated and boosted, you are still better protected than someone who is not.
“The protections that we see from the vaccine pretty much work on lessening the severity of the virus’s impact, like when it comes to the symptoms that you see,” Appling said.
There is also a new vaccine in the works to increase our level of protection against the omicron variant.
“There are scientists that are currently in the process working with the FDA, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop a vaccine that’s Omicron specific and which is also set to include these BA.4, BA.5,” Appling said.
“My personal recommendation especially even though it may not be a requirement to around the county or the state or the nation is to continue to wear masks while in public setting you know with let’s say that you’re at the supermarket or you are at a concert venue or any other deadly the other inside or heavily populated area, that it seems to be a good idea just to wear your mask and continue following hygiene standards you know washing your hands making sure you if you have hand sanitizer and always recommend the vaccine and the boosters.”
Click here for the latest COVID-19 metrics for New Hanover County.
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