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COVID-19 cases are on the rise again thanks to subvariants such as BA.2.12.1, and health officials are warning people not to let their guard down. "At the very beginning of the pandemic, we noted right away the game-changers were going to be vaccines, easy access to testing and therapeutics—and now we have all those things," said Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. "It doesn't say the pandemic's over. That's not what we've accomplished. What we've accomplished is we've reduced the risk, but we haven't eliminated the risk." Here are five states where COVID-19 is rising fast, according to data over the last seven days. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Data from sewage samples shows the infection rate in Oregon (up 33.25%) is much higher than official numbers suggest, thanks to at-home testing. "Wastewater across the state is more or less at record highs or near record highs," says Tyler Radniecki, PhD, an associate professor of environmental engineering who is leading the wastewater sampling research effort at Oregon State University. Radniecki suggests keeping track of wastewater data in your community to get an accurate idea of infection levels. "If you are seeing very large signals in your community, that might change your behaviors or the risk you're willing to take."
Cases in Oklahoma are up 56.30%, in part because of the BA.2.12.1 subvariant. "People who got COVID in December, January in that huge Omicron rush, their antibodies won't necessarily protect them against BA.2.12.1, because it has new mutations that the original Omicron did not have," says Dr. Dale Bratzler, chief COVID officer with the University of Oklahoma. "So we're seeing reinfections — people that have recovered from COVID in the past are retesting and being positive."
COVID cases are up by 28% in Texas, and government officials are advising everyone eligible for vaccines and boosters to get them. "COVID positivity rate is over 23 percent," says the Texas Department of State Health Services. "And COVID cases, deaths, and hospitalizations are continuing to increase. If you feel sick, get tested and stay home. Get fully vaccinated and boosted to best avoid severe illness."
California is experiencing a 19.82% increase in COVID-19 cases, with the state's test positivity rate climbing to 13%—the highest since January. "Next week, I expect to report that BA.4 and 5 are the dominant variants in Yolo County," says Yolo County health officer Dr. Aimee Sisson. "So you're going to see people who even just had Omicron, who are going to get infected again. So this, you know, idea that we had at the beginning of the pandemic of herd immunity and everyone would just get infected, the pandemic would be over already – unfortunately, with the amount of mutation and mutations towards immune evasion, we're not seeing that."
Cases in Mississippi are up by 39.38%. "COVID-19 cases in the state are rising at an accelerating rate, along with outbreaks in long-term care facilities," says the Mississippi Department of Health. "Seniors are currently at the highest risk of death from COVID-19 of any other age group. If you're an older Mississippian, make sure to get up to date on all vaccinations and boosters against COVID-19."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.