COVID cases are increasing in the metropolitan area
If you experience cold symptoms, you may want to take a COVID-19 test. The latest data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that the viral load entering the wastewater is on the rise.
The report shows a 54% increase in the total virus load in the metro during the week ending July 23 compared to the previous week. According to MDH, the dominant variant is XBB, which emerged over the winter as the most transmissible omicron subvariant to date.
Cases are also increasing across the country right now. The CDC COVID tracking page shows a 12% increase in hospitalizations during the same week.
“So when we start to see a few cases, it’s probably very much the tip of the iceberg, which means that many, many people are walking around with relatively limited to no symptoms and may not know that they’re exposing others to ,” said Dr. Darien Sutton, an ABC News medical contributor.
The good news is that, despite the increase, hospital admissions nationwide are still at a low level. There are currently about 8,000 admissions compared to more than 150,000 at the peak of the spread of the omicron variant.
In Minnesota, the wastewater data shows the load is within the lowest 15% of observed values since MDH began tracking it in November 2020.
Still, medical experts say it’s worth taking precautions, especially if you have an underlying health condition.
“When I see those numbers go up, that’s when I pack my mask in my bag,” said Dr. Sutton. “If you haven’t already, make sure you’re up to date on your vaccine status.”
According to the CDC, a person is up-to-date with their COVID vaccine if they have received the bivalent dose that protects against the original strain and the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants.
The FDA expects the next booster to be rolled out in the fall. Its advisory committee has voted to update it to a monovalent vaccine that targets XBB, and the FDA has asked manufacturers to develop it.