Just as they have every summer since the pandemic began, COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise across the country including North Carolina and here in the Triad. But a return to masking and social distancing isn’t likely.

The new wave of COVID patients might better be described as a wavelet — about a fourth of what it was last summer, and only a fifth of where the region was over the winter holidays. New numbers released Wednesday showed roughly 270 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in North Carolina, and in the Triad approximately a few dozen. Infectious disease expert Christopher Ohl says the newest variant, EG.5, may be slightly more transmissible than past mutations, but it does not appear to be more severe.

"Really, it’s probably more behavior that’s resulting in the increase in cases rather than the variant itself," says Ohl. "A lot of people traveling, having family vacations, and a lot more people back in the workplace too. So, there’s more opportunities for transmission."

Ohl recommends booster shots — Pfizer’s followed by Moderna’s — which will become available in mid-September and cover the most recent variants. He also recommends getting the flu shot to make it through the fall and winter respiratory virus season.


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