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U.S. faces another rise in COVID-19 cases due to BA.2 variant

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Posted: Monday, April 18, 2022. 1:42 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Associated Press reports that the United States faces another surge in cases of COVID-19, most likely by the BA.2 mutant variant that is reported to be 30 percent more contagious than other variants.
But experts concede that they do not know how high cases will grow although they are currently on the rise nationally and in most states after two months in decline.

While not expected to be as high as the wave caused by the Omicron variant of COVID, hospitalizations from the virus may rise elsewhere after ticking up in the Northeast, and reported numbers do not count those who test at home and do not report infections or skip testing altogether. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases neared 40 thousand on Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins collected by The Associated Press.
Models estimate cases could be as low as a quarter the height of the last “monstrous” surge, similar to Israel, or match Europe, especially in places with comparable levels of immunity, although the U.S. has generally a higher level of immunity from vaccination or past infection compared with earlier this year.

As of Thursday, the highest rates of new COVID cases per capita over the past 14 days were in Vermont, Rhode Island, Alaska, New York, and Massachusetts. In Washington, D.C., which also ranks in the top 10 for rates of new cases, Howard University announced it was moving most undergraduate classes online for the rest of the semester because of “a significant increase in COVID-19 positivity” in the district and on campus.

Vigilance is a good strategy, experts said, because the coronavirus is constantly throwing curveballs. One of the latest: even more contagious subvariants of BA.2 found in New York state, known as BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1. And scientists warn that new and potentially dangerous variants could arise at any time.

“We shouldn’t be thinking the pandemic is over,” one expert said. “We should still keep our guard up.”

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