New Omicron variant drives surge in COVID-19 cases

Special to Atmore News

Cases of COVID-19 are once again on the rise across the United States, with a new Omicron subvariant labeled BA.5 responsible for nearly 65 percent of those cases according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Officials feel the percentage may actually be higher, as this number does not account for the widespread use of home tests, which are not reported.
Preliminary data suggests that the BA.5 subvariant is more infectious than previous subvariants. It also appears to cause milder sickness, although hospital numbers and deaths due to COVID-19 have increased over the last several weeks.
Persons infected with the BA.5 subvariant are experiencing many of the cold and flu-like symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19, including:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Night sweats
  • Lingering cough
  • Fatigue
    Some patients are also reporting new loss of taste and smell.
    As this latest surge continues, the Alabama Department of Public Health reminds citizens to monitor the COVID-19 level in their community and to continue practicing appropriate mitigation and prevention strategies including wearing a well-fitting mask and social distancing.
    The CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older protect themselves from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated. Everyone ages 12 years and older should stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines and get a booster shot when eligible. Vaccination remains the best way to protect against severe illness, hospitalization and death. Visit to locate a vaccination site near you.
    Wearing a well-fitted mask, especially in large indoor gatherings, helps protect you and others from COVID-19. Many pharmacies offer free N95 masks; check to find locations near you. Please check with the pharmacy to confirm availability, as the CDC does not track the inventory levels at participating pharmacies.
    You can check your county’s COVID-19 levels at
    For more information on COVID-19, visit