Newest Omicron subvariant is acting different than the others, worrying scientists

My local county health department gives residents one of three different threat levels for covid cases in the area: green (best), yellow (worse) and red (worst).

For the first time in a long while our threat level moved to yellow from green.

This article in the New York Times gives one possible reason:

The most transmissible variant yet of the coronavirus is threatening a fresh wave of infections in the United States, even among those who have recovered from the virus fairly recently.

The subvariant of Omicron known as BA.5 is now dominant, according to federal estimates released Tuesday, and together with BA.4, another subvariant, it is fueling an outbreak of cases and hospitalizations.

Though the popularity of home testing means reported cases are a significant undercount of the true infection rate, the share of tests that come back positive is shooting upward and is now higher than during most other waves of the pandemic. According to the C.D.C., the risk from Covid-19 is increasing in much of the country.

“I think there’s an underappreciation of what it’s going to do to the country, and it already is exerting its effect,” said Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, who has written about the subvariant.

I work at a university. The students are gone until the second week in August. So I’m not too worried about work until that time. But I’ve started wearing a mask again for indoor spaces like supermarkets, coffee shops and convenience stores.

Might be overkill for right now, but if you wait until the threat level is high, it will be too late for many people.

My nightmare is still Long Covid. I know someone who has it.

My friend was never hospitalized. But for 1.5 years his life has been a succession of symptoms that make normal enjoyment of everyday life impossible. Symptoms that never go away completely.

If I have a choice between masking up now and again, and possibly living the rest of my life with symptoms that make me feel tired and run down every day, I’m choosing the mask every time.

There are even organizations popping up (such as this one) to support all the people with Long Covid.

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