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Concerning omicron subvariant responsible for nearly half of new COVID-19 cases in Colorado

COVID-19 omicron
Posted at 5:56 PM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 19:58:25-04

DENVER — White House officials are raising concern about an omicron subvariant that's responsible for a majority of new COVID-19 cases nationwide and nearly half of new cases in Colorado.

The subvariant, BA.5, isn't new, but its impact is being felt everywhere.

"It took about 10 days for me to actually start finally testing negative," Aurora City Councilman Juan Marcano said Tuesday.

He battled COVID-19 for nearly two weeks. His symptoms included fever, chills, congestion, fatigue and a mild loss of sense of taste and smell.

"You don't feel the symptoms until a couple of days in, and then they hit hard and then they dissipate," Marcano said.

He thinks BA.5 is what got him. The councilman suspects he picked up the virus at an election party the last week of June.

"I have a pretty good constitution, but it knocked me out for three or four days," Marcano said.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the subvariant makes up 40% to 50% of new cases in the state. Other subvariants, including BA.4 and BA.2.12.1, make up the other half.

"Whatever the variant is, we are hopeful that in the coming weeks, we'll start to see a decline. We have seen some stabilization in our numbers and some indications that in the coming weeks, we'll start to see fewer cases," CDPHE epidemiologist Ginger Stringer said.

Still, the White House is concerned about the subvariant, as it may have an increased chance of escaping immunity.

"To some extent, that means it can do a little bit more damage than some of its predecessors in terms of strains of omicron," Dr. Cameron Webb, senior policy advisor for the White House COVID-19 Response Team, told Denver7.

That's why health experts recommend you have a stock of masks and tests at home, especially if you think you just have allergies.
"When you have a runny nose or a stuffy nose, with the current levels of spread, it's very likely it could be COVID-19," Webb said.

There's also data that shows people can get reinfected with BA.5 a lot quicker than previous variants.

"With BA.5, it could be just a couple of weeks, and you can get infected again," Webb said.

Like many Americans, Marcano admits he let his guard down, something he doesn't plan to do again.

"I'm going to be masking up everywhere I go now, regardless of how I feel," the councilman said. "That's what I can do as a courtesy to everyone else that I'm around because I didn't feel symptoms for two days."

In addition to masks and tests at home, you're also recommended to stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccine and seek treatments to avoid severe illness and a stay in the hospital.