Digital generated image of variants of COVID-19. The FDA has deauthorized two medicines that were effective against delta infections but are not against omicron. Credit: Getty Images
A more catchable version of the omicron variant of COVID-19, called BA.2.12.1, is on its way to becoming the new dominant strain of the pandemic, surpassing the current dominant strain called BA.2, according to projections based on samples by federal health officials.
And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BA.2.12.1 may have already surpassed the BA.2 strain in the Southeast region of the U.S., which includes Florida.
The more transmissible strain means that more people have a likelihood of catching COVID-19 and cases are starting to rise again nationally and in Florida, potentially leading to another surge.
Federal health officials even encouraged the use of masks indoors again in certain areas with high levels of community transmission Wednesday, according to the New York Times.
According to CDC’s sampling of new COVID-19 cases, the more-transmissible BA.2.12.1 strain is responsible for about 47.5 percent of new cases in the U.S. compared to 50.9 percent of cases coming from the current dominant strain, BA. 2.
In the Southeast, the results of the sampling shows that BA.2.12 makes up 52.4 percent of new COVID cases, compared to BA.2’s 47.1 percent in the Southeast.
According to the CDC data, Florida’s seven-day average of new COVID cases was 7,561 as of May 17. That compares to COVID case numbers back in mid-February.
The CDC currently reports 997,887 COVID-19 deaths nationwide, as of Monday. The nearly one million figure is a tragic milestone.
Florida has had the third most COVID deaths out of the fifty states and Washington, D.C., with 74,241 deaths from January 2020 to May 16, according to CDC’s data.
But Florida has a large population in general, so for a more nuanced picture, the CDC’s data shows that the death rate for Florida is 345 deaths per 100,000 population, and 18 other states and New York City have a higher death rate than Florida.
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