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COVID-19 cases rising in Maricopa County

Hospitals are bracing for new variants to hit the Valley.

PHOENIX — While many people have forgotten about the pandemic, the coronavirus is slowly making a comeback in Maricopa County. But are the new variants enough to cause panic?

The number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have been increasing since July, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

During the week of August 13, 3,270 positive cases were traced. Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS). The number of positive cases for the week of August 20th was 2,793, and the number of positive cases for the week of July 2nd was 1,415.

According to AZDHS, the recombinant BA.2 (BJ.1 and BM.1.1.1) strain XBB.1.5 was the predominant variant in Arizona from June to early July.

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Although the numbers are nowhere near what Maricopa County experienced from 2020 to 2022, ASU virologist Dr. Efrem Lim is investigating a new variant called BA.2.86 that is making its way into the United States. said. For now, experts are still working to determine how this variant affects people.

“This could have very different properties than what we're currently seeing,” Dr. Lim said.

One way to determine the symptoms of COVID-19 is through testing. However, Dr Lim said the challenge researchers are facing is that fewer people are actually getting tested when they feel unwell.

“We don't have a lot of information to know what's going on because people aren't really testing,” Lim said.

Although concerns about the virus remain low, hospitals are still preparing for a possible surge of patients. Dr. Dan Quan, an emergency physician at Valleywise Health, said they have enough staff to take in as many patients as needed. Dr. Quan said that from his own experience, people who come to the hospital infected with COVID-19 do not have very serious symptoms.

Quan also believes the new variant is similar to what patients experienced with Omicron virus. We'll have to wait and see what happens to hospitals in the coming months, Quan said.

“This year's increase rate has not yet been determined,” Quan said.

new vaccine

The latest vaccines to prevent coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are expected to be available this month. Mr Lim said the vaccine was created keeping all previous variants in mind and encouraged people to roll up their sleeves once again and take the latest vaccine once it is approved by their doctors.

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