DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The summer season is in full swing which means more people are traveling and getting out of the house, but we are also seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases.
Chris Cook, assistant health commissioner for the Clark County Combined Health District, said the county is reporting 33 new COVID-19 cases a day so far in July. He said that is close to the numbers they were seeing during the omicron surge at the beginning of 2022; however, Cook said the number of new cases could actually be a lot higher.
“These numbers, though, are underreported. I think a lot of people are using at home test kits and not reporting them. So I actually think that 33 per day that we’re seeing right now is actually low. I think it’s a lot higher than that,” Cook said.
Part of the increase in cases can be linked to the BA.5 variant, which is becoming the dominant strain here in the Miami Valley. The variant is highly transmissible and is reinfecting people who already had COVID-19.
“It does look like early data shows that BA.5 can trump that previous infection acquired immunity. If you got sick during the months of February or March with the omicron sub variant, typically at BA.1 or BA.2,” Cook said.
So far, Dr. Roberto Colon, chief medical officer for Miami Valley Hospital, said they are not seeing an uptick in severe cases or hospitalizations with this variant, but they are seeing symptoms that could be confused with allergies.
“The majority of the new cases are having a lot more of that sore throat, coughing and sneezing, very similar to what we see with allergy symptoms or with the common cold. So it becomes even harder to differentiate this than previous iterations,” Dr. Colon said.
Because of how easily this variant is spreading, local health leaders are urging people to take precautions now. They recommend people get their COVID-19 test kits and finish their vaccine series. They also say do not be afraid to mask up, especially if you have other health conditions.
“If you’re going to be traveling, if you’re in an airport, in an air plane, I would absolutely recommend that definitely if you fall into those categories, you should be doing so, and for most people right now because of the increase amount of disease, you would likely benefit from wearing in those environments,” Dr. Colon said.