BOONE COUNTY — It’s been a month since COVID-19 transmission levels in Boone County moved from the green to the yellow zone and a week since they moved from the yellow to the red, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed zones.
However, as transmission has increased, Boone County’s hospital admissions also moved from the green zone to the yellow zone on Thursday.
dr Margaret Day of MU Health Care, GP and co-chair for COVID-19 vaccines, said cases are rising. But she sees many patients asking for help after testing positive with at-home tests.
“Unfortunately, I have recently noticed a significant increase in my patient panel who have contracted COVID. We sometimes hear about it on the page ‘I tested positive at home and am now looking for guidance or treatment’ I’ve noticed a change there over the past few weeks,” she said.
Day pointed out that home testing can’t be reported, so case counts aren’t as accurate.
“We’ve gotten a little used to using case numbers as a measure of what COVID activity is happening in our community,” Day said. “And one factor that needs to be pointed out recently that has made this a little less accurate is the prevalence of home testing. So people certainly have that ability and tracking cases, or a string of infections, you know, might not be our most reliable indicator of COVID activity in our community.”
She said she’s seeing more home testing due to its convenience.
“These home tests are pretty readily available now, and certainly pretty easy to pull out of the closet and dab yourself,” Day said.
The newest dominant variants thought to infect humans, BA.5 and BA.4, subvariants of omicron, are spreading rapidly.
“BA.5 is now thought to cause the majority of infections across the country. So they make up 53.6% that was recently estimated, so between that and the BA.4 variant they make up the majority of cases by far,” she said.
BA.5 were omitted almost 54% of the country’s COVID cases starting Saturday, according to the CDC. The similar subvariant BA.4 accounts for 17% more.
Vaccine companies are encouraged to work to provide protection against the new variants in upcoming new booster shots this fall. But dr Day suggests getting the refresher now.
“It is recommended that people over the age of 5 get a booster and even some populations including immunocompromised people over the age of 12 and all people over the age of 50 can get a second booster,” she said.
Pfizer said NBC News that it might have an updated BA.5 and BA.4 vaccine ready to be distributed in October.