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Virus Expert Feels "Very Strongly" You Should Do This to Stay Safe Now

Protect yourself against this new dominant subvariant of the coronavirus.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

COVID-19 cases are consistently rising nationwide, with an average of more than 100,000 new cases recorded daily for the first time since February. (Although, experts say, many new cases are now diagnosed with at-home tests, whose results are not reported, so the true number of infections is likely higher.) The culprit? A new dominant subvariant of the coronavirus. Here's what you need to know about it. 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.


What Is The New COVID Subvariant?

Young sick student teenager woman outside at bus stop is sneezing into the elbow by an allergy or cold. Scared woman in protective mask afraid cough woman outdoor

The COVID subvariant BA.2.12.1 now accounts for 58 percent of the U.S., the CDC says. Here's what experts know about it:

  • It's more contagious than previous variants
  • Reinfections are more likely
  • It doesn't seem to cause more serious illness
  • It evolved from the subvariant BA.2, which itself evolved from the original Omicron and has been the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S. since March

How to Stay Safe From the New Variant

Doctor's gloved hands using cotton before vaccine.

The CDC officially recommends that people in areas with "medium to high" community transmission wear a face mask in public. "I feel that very strongly, that in crowded indoor spaces, in places with high transmission, people should be doing that," said Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the White House COVID-19 coordinator on ABC's "This Week" Sunday. 

And vaccinations continue to be important. "What we know is vaccines continue to provide a high level of protection against people getting seriously ill," said Jha. Late last week, the CDC said that all people 50 or older should get a second booster shot if at least four months have passed since their first booster.


Symptoms of BA.2.12.1

A man looking after his suffering girlfriend.

The symptoms of BA.2.12.1 are similar to those reported with other variants. They include sneezing, stuffy nose, body aches, cough, sore throat, and fatigue. Researchers with the ZOE COVID Symptoms Study say they're getting anecdotal reports of more runny noses and fatigue. 

Officially, the CDC says COVID symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

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.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael