BA.2 is Rising Fastest in These States
Daily COVID cases have fallen sharply since hitting an all-time peak in January. But they've started to creep up again in the last few weeks, driven by the spread of BA.2, the highly contagious subvariant of Omicron. BA.2 now accounts for more than 90% of new cases in the U.S. Luckily, it doesn't seem to cause more severe illness or more frequent hospitalization. But experts say it's important to be aware of whether COVID is spreading rapidly, so you can take safety precautions like masking in public. These are five states where BA.2 is rising the fastest. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
According to the New York Times COVID tracker, cases of the coronavirus in Kansas have risen 198% in the last 14 days. Infectious disease expert Dr. Dana Hawkinson told the Kansas City Star that an increase in cases may be due to an increase in social gatherings and a reduction in COVID precautions in recent weeks. But in the state, as elsewhere, experts are not seeing a surge of COVID-related hospitalizations; according to the Times data, the 14-day average is actually down 34 percent.
In New Hampshire, cases have more the doubled in the last two weeks. They're at their highest level since Feb. 18, and hospitalizations are at their highest point since March 6, but "health officials have said case numbers are increasingly unreliable because more people are testing at home, and those results aren't reported to the state," WMUR reported.
In Oregon, COVID cases have also more than doubled in the last 14 days. Experts say they expect cases will continue to rise. "We're not done with COVID-19 yet," said Oregon Health Authority epidemiologist Dr. Tom Jeanne on Wednesday. "But we are closer to normality than ever … all of us will need to make decisions about the amount of risk we're willing to take." Hospitalizations in the state are relatively stable.
In Michigan, too, cases per 100,000 residents have more than doubled in the last 14 days, according to the Times data, with the Detroit Free Press reporting they've risen 36% in the last week alone. But only 3% of hospital beds in the state are being filled with COVID patients; that's down from 24% in January, at the peak of Omicron's surge.
Another state where COVID cases have more than doubled in the last 14 days is Delaware. Still, experts say mask mandates are unlikely to return to the state (unlike nearby Philadelphia, which reinstated that precaution this week.) "It's important for people to know that they've got the tools to keep themselves safe at their disposal – and they can use them at any time," a spokeswoman for Gov. John Carney told WHYY. "Make sure you're up to date with your vaccines, including with your booster, get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms, stay home if you feel sick, and choose to wear a mask if it makes you feel safer, or if you have a weakened immune system, or around others who are vulnerable."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.