It mostly affects people who have already contracted the virus.
Frederick, Md. (KM) – There’s a new COVID-19 variant out there that’s making people sick. BA.5 is part of the Omicron family which has been around since the beginning of the year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 65% of the COVID cases in the US are the result of BA.5. “So it is here,” says Rissah Watkins with the Frederick County Health Department.
The World Health Organization says it has tracked BA.5 since April, and it has been dominant strain worldwide since the end of 2021. It was first found in South Africa and has been causing spikes in Europe and parts of Asia.
“It seems like people who have already had COVID–who’ve already tested positive, even with the earlier Omicron variant earlier this year–they may still be susceptible to BA.5,” Watkins says.
WHO says there’s no evidence that BA.5 is more dangerous than any other Omicron variant, but spikes in cases can put health services under pressure.
Watkins says the best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated and boosted, if you haven’t do so already. “We are still offering vaccination clinics at the building on Himes Avenue. And I say vaccinations are still one of the best ways to protect ourselves from serious and severe COVID,”: she says.
The vaccine is also available from physicians’ offices and many pharmacies provide COVID-19 shots. To find where the vaccine is available in your area go on line to covidvac.maryland.gov.
“I would also say we can consider wearing well-fitted face coverings if we’re inside and can’t distance from other people,” she says. “And, as always, we can get tested if we have symptoms.”
As of Thursday, July 14th, the Frederick County Health Department says there have been 50,630 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in 2020, and 525 deaths from the virus have been reported. Also, 230,525 in Frederick County have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s 88.8% of the population. 205,969 people, or 79.4% of local residents, are fully vaccinated, according to the Health Department.
By Kevin McManus