WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — COVID case numbers are once again on the rise in central Pennsylvania. Both Lycoming and Clinton Counties are marked for high levels of transmission.
"The numbers have started to come up again, especially in our county. Just two weeks ago, we had 169 new cases," said Dr. Rutul Dalal, an infectious disease expert at UPMC Williamsport.
Dr. Dalal says the new BA.5 variant is not as severe as past variants, but it is much easier to spread.
"It is at least 25 to 35 times more transmissible than the original omicron subvariant."
Currently, 15 people are hospitalized at UPMC hospitals in the northcentral region.
Dr. Dalal fears the number will increase as the fall approaches.
"People will rush indoors in the northern tier states, and the humidity will go down as we crank up our heaters, and that's when our numbers will go up in the fall or winter months."
Dr. Dalal says the best way to stay out of the hospital is by getting vaccinated or receiving a booster shot, especially as we approach the colder months.
"We might reach a second wave, not as high as delta, but at least the second highest wave after delta."
With cases on the rise, it is important to test when experiencing symptoms. Dr. Dalal says testing frequently when feeling sick is important.
"If you have a home-based antigen test, don't only rely on one test. I would suggest doing it successively for three days back to back to find out if you are truly positive because there are still false negatives."
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