COVID cases tend to increase as the BA.5 variant spreads; should we wear a mask?

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) — Health officials are urging caution as COVID-19 cases continue to rise nationwide.

The CDC reported that the 7-day rolling average of new cases was 39,777 on July 20. This year, on July 20, the 7-day rolling average of new cases was reported at 125,827, more than three times higher.

“If your county happens to be one of those high transmission ranges, then yes, I think it makes sense to wear a mask when you’re in those public places. Partly because the virus is more transmissible right now. moment, in part because we know it’s a considerate thing for other people, not knowing whether or not they have a compromised immune system,” said Dr. Nicholas Turner, assistant professor of infectious diseases at the Duke University Hospital.

At Pullen Park on Friday, the parents explained how they were coping with the rise.

“It’s too difficult to keep the children at home during the summer holidays. So we just take care of ourselves, using disinfectant, sometimes if it’s busy we use masks. But in the “Together we’re fine. We’ve been getting used to having COVID for more than two years now,” Mai Allam said.

Allam says she takes her daughter to the park during the week when there are fewer people.

“When I’m not outside, I have a mask. My granddaughter at daycare, she wears a mask all day. I don’t go to the movies, I don’t go on cruises, I don’t go on vacation, I’m not even going to funerals. Until it was much lower, we changed our whole routine,” Stanley Davis added.

Yesterday Davis shared that she received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Statewide, only 3% of children 4 and under, 27% of 5-11 year olds and 48% of 12-17 year olds have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Last week, the NCDHHS said 10% of reported cases were in school-aged children.

“Fortunately, serious illnesses, although they do occur, are still much less common in children than in adults. I think in the past we thought that children were not a big contributor to the spread of the disease. COVID, but that’s changing now,” Dr. Turner said.

Health officials believe the number of cases is underreported, due to the prevalence of home testing.

“I have a middle schooler who will be going back to a traditional schedule next month. And that’s definitely something that worries me. We’re also in a different place with this virus. We now have more treatments available that can reduce the disease severity, which can reduce transmission, and I think there’s a growing increase in those,” said Jessica Dixon, infection control specialist at WakeMed Health and Hospitals.

Dixon also discussed the recent approval of the Novavax vaccinewhich could lead to an increase in the number of people vaccinated.

The increase in cases is largely driven by the more transmissible BA.5 variant, which accounts for about 50% of cases in North Carolina and the majority of cases nationwide. This recent increase also coincides with the removal or easing of most COVID restrictions, including mask mandates and capacity restrictions, as well as increased travel.

“If I wasn’t vaccinated right now, I’d be masking up everywhere I go. If you’re vaccinated but your last booster like ours was last fall, then I think it’s really time to think about masking if you’re going to be in a crowded, indoor event,” Dixon said.

“If your county happens to be one of those high transmission ranges, then yes, I think it makes sense to wear a mask when you’re in those public places. Partly because the virus is more transmissible right now. moment, in part because we know it’s a considerate thing for other people, not knowing whether or not they have a struggling immune system,” Dr. Turner added.

Hospitalizations and ICU admissions are lagging indicators, though Dr. Turner noted that about 6% of current hospitalizations are due to COVID.

“I don’t really anticipate we’d be close to those concerns for surge capacity like we were with Delta. I think vaccines have been a game-changer for that (variant) because we’ve seen a marked reduction in the number of people hospitalized, even though breakthrough infections are clearly occurring,” Turner said.

Another focus: reminders. Vaccine and booster protection decline over time, and many adults received their booster dose last fall or winter. Moderna and Pfizer are working on omicron-specific vaccines to be published later this year.

“This is a great risk-benefit discussion that people can have with their doctor. To sum it up, I would say vulnerable people, if they’re older, have medical comorbidities, or have immune system disorders, I always recommend that they continue with their reminders now and not waste time, since we know the virus is still circulating.If on the other hand, someone has recently received a reminder, within the past four to six months , or is actually quite healthy and young to start with, that might do well. I think it’s also worth noting that if someone chose to get their booster now, it wouldn’t prevent them from getting the vaccine updated. day when it becomes available in the fall as well,” Turner said.

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