NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Your thermometer isn’t the only thing rising right now in Hampton Roads. COVID-19 cases are also getting higher in Eastern Virginia.
Right now, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Isle of Wight and Southampton County are all considered areas of high transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"If I was walking into a grocery store in those areas, I would be wearing a mask. Any public indoor place where we’re all sharing air, we should probably mask up," said Dr. Elizabeth Broderick, a Newport News pediatrician.
Newport News, Hampton, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Norfolk are all sitting at medium rates of transmission.
The uptick in cases is caused by the BA.5 Omicron subvariant, the most contagious yet, according to Dr. Broderick.
"It’s easier to catch it and we’re not wearing masks. So, we’re really giving it a good chance to get at us," she said.
Adding the extreme heat into the equation, you may have a hard time discerning if you have the virus or a heat-related illness because the initial symptoms are so similar.
"If you have a headache and you’re sweaty and you’re nauseated and you have muscle aches and you’re feeling pretty terrible, is it heat exhaustion or are you coming down with COVID? Go inside and cool down," Dr. Broderick said.
Dr. Broderick said it’s only a matter of time before communities in the yellow range turn red.
"If your neighbor is red, you need to act as though your area is red," she said.
If you haven’t gotten either of the mRNA vaccine options, Novavax will hit the market in Virginia next month as an alternative vaccine option. Dr. Broderick emphasized no matter which version you get, the vaccines will help prevent severe infection and hospitalization.