Mercy Cedar Rapids and UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids are asking the community to be vigilant against the spread of COVID-19 as we are again seeing increases in COVID cases and hospitalizations.
The new subvariant, BA.5, is the dominant variant within the U.S. and is showing an increased level of transmissibility. In fact, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of the U.S. population lives in counties where COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are high enough that people should wear masks in indoor public settings. The CDC lists Linn County as high risk at this time.
In addition, the new subvariant appears to be partially immune-evasive, meaning that people who have gotten their vaccinations or have previously had COVID-19 may not have as much protection against mild or asymptomatic infection.
As a result, we ask the community to recommit to mitigation precautions that can help lessen the spread of COVID. The CDC recommends:
- masking in indoor public places and during gatherings
- maintaining appropriate social distancing
- practicing good hand hygiene
The reported symptoms of the BA.5 variant are similar to other COVID variants: fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, muscle pain and fatigue.
Most patients being admitted to local hospitals are older and have other conditions that put them at higher risk. Please take particular care to protect these groups of people and help educate your loved ones who may fit this profile on what they can do to lessen their risk.
Of course, the COVID vaccination does protect against severe illness. Contact a healthcare provider of pharmacist to determine if you are eligible for a booster dose or check the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html. If you are eligible for an additional booster, please consider receiving it so that you are better protected against severe illness. As more individuals complete this step, it will also help decrease the potential effect on hospitals.
Lastly, we thank the community for continuing to do their part to ensure that our neighbors, coworkers, families and hospitals remain healthy throughout this pandemic.