COVID cases increasing in the metro area
If you’re experiencing cold symptoms, you may want to take a COVID-19 test. The most recent data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows the viral load entering the wastewater is on the way up.
The report shows a 54% increase in the total viral load in the metro during the week ending July 23 compared to the week prior. According to MDH, the dominant variant is XBB, which emerged over the winter as the most transmissible omicron subvariant so far.
Cases are also increasing across the country right now. The CDC COVID tracker page shows a 12% increase in hospital admissions during the same week.
“So when we start to see a couple of cases, it probably very much is the tip of the iceberg, meaning that many, many people are walking around with relatively limited to no symptoms and may not know that they’re exposing it to others,” said Dr. Darien Sutton, an ABC News medical contributor.
The good news is, despite the increase, hospitalizations nationwide still remain at low levels. There are currently about 8,000 hospitalizations 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 values observed since MDH started 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 bump up, that’s when I pack my mask in my bag,” said Dr. Sutton. “If you haven’t done so already, make sure that you’re up to date on your vaccine status.”
According to the CDC, an individual is up to date with their COVID vaccine if they’ve received the bivalent dose, which protects against the original strain and the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants.
The FDA expects the next booster will 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 directed manufacturers to develop it.