Omicron BA.2, the newest COVID-19 variant, has been found in sewer testing in Buchanan County, but cases have not seen a jump.
In Shanghai, China, the new variant has caused the community to go into lockdown. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported 30,000 new infections Monday, which is a 20% increase, but hospitalizations are still dramatically below the peak.
Locally, cases have not increased as daily cases remain below single digits to the point the St. Joseph Health Department has gone away with daily reports. St. Joseph Health Director Debra Bradley said the health department wants to continue to keep the public informed if cases do get to a higher point, but they are not providing daily updates and want to allow people to make their own mitigation decisions.
“As other communities have gone to taking mitigation steps such as requiring masks, we are not looking to do those things,” Bradley said. “We do want to be aware, because if the numbers do seem to increase by a significant amount, we want to make sure people are aware,” Bradley said.
Mosaic Life Care Dr. Scott Folk, an infectious disease specialist, said that he is surprised the BA.2 variant hasn’t caused an increase in cases here locally, and he suggested that the weather is a factor.
“I think the time to be on the lookout for a surge in cases would potentially be in the fall when the cooler weather returns and people gather closer together indoors,” Folk said. “That’s what facilitates the transmission.”
Bradley said the amount of COVID-19 information that comes from the state is less now as they receive positive results, but they do not receive negative results. The positive results are formed from PCR tests and antigen (rapid) tests, but there are people at home who take at-home tests or take an antigen test in which data does not get turned over to the state.
“There’s still going to be a lot of people out there who are positive that we don’t know about, so when we say we’re averaging five a day, there may actually be 10, 15 or 20 people a day,” Bradley said.