TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — With COVID-19 cases in the Tampa Bay area climbing again, 8 On Your Side looked into what’s driving the spike and whether the old treatments still work.
You might feel like more people around you are getting coronavirus. It’s not in your head.
Data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows an uptick. Experts say new sub-variants of Omicron are spreading around the state. Most of those in the Tampa Bay area are in a neighborhood with levels of COVID-19.
All, but those in Hardee and Manatee counties.
“Have you noticed more coronavirus cases?” asked 8OYS investigator Mahsa Saeidi.
“Recently, yes,” Florencia Real said. “I have two close friends who just tested positive yesterday. We’ve had so many variants at this point you don’t even know what to expect.”
Other Tampa Bay residents also have questions about the new variants.
“My number one concern is if the death rate is going to be as high as the original variant,” Alexandria Bishop said.
Last fall, Omicron emerged, taking over Delta. It caused less severe illness but it was more contagious than ever before.
By 2022, a new subvariant called Omicron BA.2 took over the United States.
Now, the latest CDC data shows more variants, BA.4 and BA.5, are popping up in the southeast.
Together, the two new strains make up more than 20 percent of infections.
“We’re seeing milder illnesses but more illnesses in more healthy people,” Moffitt’s Dr. John Greene said.
Dr. Greene said the latest subvariants appear to be more transmissible.
Still, the number of patients being admitted to area hospitals remain low.
“However, we are seeing a lot more outpatients who are showing up positive,” Dr. Greene said. “A test that diagnosed COVID are still able to pick up all the variants and subvariants. The treatment we’re giving still works, although maybe not as effective.”
This is not a surprise. There will continue to be new variants.
Scientists said as more people build immunity, it decreases the opportunity for the virus to spread and mutate.
The CDC’s website includes the latest guidance on boosters.