COVID-19 cases are rising across the Tampa Bay Area, and it’s all because of an omicron sub-variant called BA5.By Casey Albritton

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – A new sub-variant of COVID-19 is causing cases to rise across the Tampa Bay Area.

“We’re not out of this pandemic. As I said, it’s been ups and downs. It felt like we were done but i don’t know if we will be done any time soon,” said Joseph Perno, Chief Medical Officer at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

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COVID-19 cases are rising across the Tampa Bay Area, and it’s all because of an omicron sub-variant called BA5.

“BA5 seems to be a little bit better at spreading than what we had previously,” said Dr. Michael Teng, a virologist at the University of South Florida.

Dr. Teng says it’s the dominant variant in the state right now.

“We think it has something to do with its ability to both bind to the cells to infect them, as well as to avoid the immune response,” said Dr. Teng.

According to the Florida Department of Health, the state positivity rate is 19% that’s eight points higher than it was in may.

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“I was just traveling, and no one is wearing a mask,” said Dr. Teng.

With an increase in covid cases, there’s also an increase in hospitalizations.

“Over the last month we’ve seen some of our higher numbers since the winter time with the number of kids who are hospitalized. We are seeing more kids come to the er who are testing positive and as usual, a subset of them are admitted, and a subset ends up in our intensive care unit,” said Perno.

Perno says his team is having to make adjustments.

“Right now we have them scattered around in appropriate infection control rooms through out the hospital but as the numbers rise we need to create a special area to quern off the covid positive patients,” said Perno.

His advice right now is to get your loved ones vaccinated and boosted.

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“It can still offer some protections and may be the difference of keeping your child out of the hospital or the ICU,” said Perno.