COVID-19 cases rise, new vaccines expected in the fall

Published 3:01 pm Thursday, August 4, 2022

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More than two years have passed since the COVID-19 outbreak, and while vaccines have eased the rate of hospital admissions and deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says cases are on the rise once again.

In the Piedmont Health District, the seven-day average total of newly reported cases is 44.

Just last week the CDC was reporting COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations are on the rise in the United States, driving community levels up to medium or high in 75% of counties. We also reported the spike in nursing homes late last month. 

Due to such a rise, most of the Piedmont Health District is listed at high community levels, with the CDC recommending that individuals begin to wear masks in public areas once again while living or working in these areas.

What’s causing the COVID-19 spike?

The CDC says the Omicron BA.5 is the predominant variant, causing an estimated 78% of cases. BA.5 has fueled the rapid rise in cases since June, suggesting that it spreads more efficiently than previous Omicron lineages.

According to the CDC, BA.4 and BA.5 — considered the most contagious forms of the virus to date — made up more than 90% of all new coronavirus cases in the United States for the week ending July 23.

In addition, the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker shows that only about 34% of people who are eligible for a COVID-19 booster and about 29% of people ages 50 years and older who qualify for a second booster have gotten one.

In the fight against the Omicron variants, the federal government announced Friday, July 29, that new vaccines will be reformulated to perform better against the now dominant and highly contagious omicron subvariant BA.5.

New boosters will be ready by fall

Both pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna said they’ll have the new boosters ready by September, with the federal government agreeing to purchase millions of doses to allocate to the public.

“More than two years since the start of this pandemic, COVID-19 continues to be an illness that challenges how we interact with each other, how our workplaces operate, and how our health systems care for us,” said Piedmont Health District Director Dr. Maria Almond. “COVID-19 continues to disrupt. But we as a community continue to persevere, finding ways to be together safely and to continue the care and services we provide to each other.”