Cases of new COVID variant rising in Georgia, high temperatures may contribute to spread
TIFTON, Ga. (WALB) - COVID-19 seems to be here to stay, and a new variant could explain why cases are on the rise again both here in South Georgia and nationally.
With COVID cases back on the rise, some medical experts say rising temperatures may be partly to blame.
Tift Regional Medical Center is seeing an uptick in outpatient COVID numbers. The hospital said about 20 patients per clinic per day are testing positive. Charlotte Griffin, infection prevention specialist at Tift Regional Medical Center, said she believes COVID-19 is here to stay.
“I think it’s going to be something like the flu that we see every year. We’re going to see smaller spikes now than we did in the early days,” Griffin said.
According to the Department of Public Health, this new variant, EG.5 or “ERIS,” is the dominant COVID variant spreading in the U.S. right now. It is responsible for about 17% of new COVID cases in the country, and about 16% of new cases in Georgia so far. “ERIS” has early depictions that indicate it could be more easily transmissible than some other variants, but higher temperatures could also be a factor.
“The heat right now is forcing people indoors and may have the same effect that the winter has on flu. It’s early, we’re still learning about COVID, but this could be something that influences it,” Griffin said.
The hospital encourages those testing positive to avoid spreading the virus to others, by staying home and getting tested. Getting vaccinated and following safety protocols like washing your hands and social distancing are also advised.
“The latest is the Bivalent vaccination for COVID. The Bivalent is a one shot so it’s more convenient for people to get now,” she said.
The overall COVID numbers remain relatively low and health professionals do not foresee another massive surge in cases soon. But they say COVID is being treated like the flu.
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