New COVID-19 variant emerges with 100s of newly-reported cases in Shelby County alone

Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 4:34 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2023 at 4:40 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A new COVID-19 subvariant is taking charge in the U.S., causing more cases than any other variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Covid-19 subvariant EG.5 is reportedly behind 17.3% of new coronavirus cases in the U.S.

In Shelby County alone, the Health Department reported almost 450 new cases between July 30 and August 5.

“We are seeing some more cases in Memphis,” said Dr. Sandy Arnold, division chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UTHSC and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

With the rise of COVID-19 coming at the start of the school year, many parents are worried that their children could get sick. Dr. Arnold says as long as you have the vaccine, there should be nothing to worry about.

“They’re not severe cases,” she said. “We’re not really seeing these kids in the hospital, but we do know that we’re seeing more cases here and that there has been an uptick in cases nationally.”

An updated COVID-19 booster is expected this fall, but according to Dr. Arnold, it’s unclear who should get it first. Priority remains on the first doses of the core vaccine for maximum protection.

“So this new vaccine is just going to be monovalent, it’s only going to have XBB Omicron subvariant in it,” said Dr. Arnold.

Dr. Arnold says the EG.5 subvariant does not seem to have the same dangerous effects as the typical subvariants. Although symptoms are still present, not as many deaths are reported. Many say it feels like a common cold.

“Because really becomes very similar to the flu in terms of the number of deaths that we are seeing, the number of severe cases, and so this is why we’ve stopped masking, because we don’t routinely mask for influenza,” Dr. Arnold said.

The best ways to prevent COVID-19 during the back-to-school season: wash your hands and stay home if you or your child feel sick.

Dr. Arnold says, “We don’t want kids missing a lot of school for this. But as long as they’re unwell, having fever and coughing a lot, we should be relying on parents to keep their kids home.”

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