Title: Rising COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations Prompt Concern for New Variants
As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to surge in major U.S. cities, health officials are closely monitoring the circulation of new variants across the country. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported an 18.8% increase in COVID-19 cases between August 13 and August 19.
The dominant strains in the U.S. are EG.5 and FL.1.5.1, accounting for 21.5% and 14.5% of cases, respectively. However, a new variant known as BA.2.86, or Pirola, has also been detected in a small number of samples worldwide, including the U.S.
Experts suggest that the spike in cases and hospitalizations is primarily driven by FL.1.5.1 and EG.5, rather than by BA.2.86. While the rise in hospitalizations is concerning, it is important to note that it is still far from the surge of cases witnessed throughout the pandemic. The highest rate of new hospital admissions in 2023 occurred during the week of December 31, 2022.
As the fall season approaches, epidemiologists are warning about the potential for a “tripledemic” involving COVID-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). They emphasize the importance of getting vaccinated against all three illnesses to protect individuals and communities.
In the coming month, Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax are expected to make their new COVID-19 vaccines and boosters available for both adults and children. These vaccines specifically target the XBB.1.5 variant of COVID-19 and offer protection against not only COVID-19 but also against two other major respiratory illnesses. This development marks a historic first in vaccine research.
Symptoms of the different variants include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, headache, runny or blocked nose, and chills. It is important for individuals to be aware of these symptoms and seek medical attention if needed.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against using expired COVID-19 tests, as they may produce inaccurate results. It is crucial to follow proper guidelines and use reliable testing methods to ensure accurate diagnoses and appropriate management of infections.
Experts reiterate the importance of adhering to basic public health measures to mitigate the spread of the virus during surges. These measures include wearing masks, practicing social distancing, hand hygiene, and getting vaccinated. It is crucial for the community to come together and follow these guidelines in order to curb the rising cases and protect public health.
Overall, it is essential for individuals to stay vigilant, informed, and proactive in their efforts to combat the ongoing pandemic.
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