COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations rising due to Omicron subvariant, Novant Health officials say

According to one doctor, the BA.5 subvariant accounts for about 65% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
The healthcare system is currently caring for about 150 COVID-19 patients in its hospitals.
Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 1:36 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – The highly-contagious Omicron subvariant BA.5 is driving a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the country, according to doctors with Novant Health.

During a Tuesday morning briefing, Dr. David Priest, Novant Health’s senior vice president and chief safety, quality and epidemiology officer, said the healthcare system is currently caring for about 150 COVID-19 patients in its hospitals.

He noted that the number is a combination of actively infected patients and patients who are still recovering.

Priest said they are seeing an increase in cases due to the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, adding that 20 to 30% of their tests are coming back positive while recognizing official numbers are an undercount due to the large number of at-home tests that aren’t reported.

According to Priest, the BA.5 subvariant accounts for about 65% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. He said the country has also seen a 20% increase in hospitalizations over the last two weeks.

Related: ‘Ninja variant’ of Omicron blamed for rise in COVID-19 cases across Charlotte, N.C.

The doctor went on to say the subvariant does not appear to lead to more serious illness or ICU admissions, but it is very contagious.

Priest referenced the debate – sometimes publicly – as to whether or not BA.5 is as contagious as the measles, which the medical community has said is the most infectious disease on record.

“This variant has shown the ability to evade immunity from previous infections and vaccines, so that your chances of reinfection are higher with BA.5, even if you had BA.1 Omicron COVID earlier this calendar year,” Priest said.

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