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Health leaders urge vigilance as Omicron subvariants circulate

The BA. 5 subvariant makes up more than half of new infections and reinfections, according to the latest CDC estimation.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A new strain of COVID-19 is dominating new cases in the U.S. 

"There's definitely been an uptick," said Dionne Gibbs, founder and CEO of Shades of Life Labs, LLC, who is also a registered nurse and nurse educator. 

Gibbs said she recorded a 60 percent test positivity rate at her medical laboratory in Virginia Beach on Friday.

Recent Fourth of July gatherings could be to blame.

"People were congregating, having fun, socializing with their families and a lot of times, we tend to be comfortable with those who we know," Gibbs said. "And this is wedding season, we're going to see a lot of weddings. So, definitely, with events as they occur, remember to be safe; wear your mask, wash your hands and social distance as much as possible."

The BA. 5 subvariant is fueling more than 53% of new cases, according to the CDC

On top of that, researchers from University of Virginia suggest that BA. 4 and BA. 5 can evade vaccines and antibodies from prior infection. They predict those two subvariants possibly causing a small case surge in the coming months in Virginia.

However, so far, doctors have said there is no evidence proving that BA. 4 and BA. 5 lead to more severe illness compared to other strains.

"I know they have relaxed the mandates, but we have to always stay vigilant," Gibbs added. 

She also believes the number of new infections is likely undercounted, since people who test positive with at-home kits don't have to report results.

Moreover, health experts continue to urge up-to-date COVID-19 vaccinations, including boosters, to prevent severe cases and hospitalization.

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