The BA.5 Covid-19 subvariant is now the most dominant strain in the country; the highly infectious variant has caused an uptick in cases and hospitalizations both in hotspots like New York City and the nation overall, but public health action and messaging is less aggressive than with previous outbreaks.
BA.5 typically causes familiar symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches, cough, and sore throat but can still cause serious illness, especially in individuals with preexisting conditions. It’s even entered the highest halls of power, with President Joe Biden’s doctor saying in a letter Saturday that Biden is likely infected with BA.5. But there’s been little focus on the national plan to keep the subvariant under control, which the Biden administration rolled out July 12.
Tracking BA.5’s rise is complicated somewhat because of an increase in at-home rapid testing to confirm infection, rather than testing in a clinical setting, which would make its way to health authorities and paint a fuller picture of the data. While the number of cases is nowhere near the level of infections due to omicron last winter, the week-on-week total of hospital admissions overall has trended up steadily over the past month, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.