What a new Covid variant and a new disease mean for Mecklenburg


There’s a new variant of Covid, the most dominant one so far.

The Center for Disease Control reported that on July 2, BA.5 accounted for over half of the nation’s Covid-19 cases.

The variant emerged when Governor Roy Cooper announced that the state of emergency in North Carolina would end later this summer.

“I don’t think the state of emergency really changes anything for individuals and what they should be doing on an everyday basis,” Public Health Director Raynard Washington told QCity Metro.

The county urges people to continue to stay up to date with vaccines, wear masks, and regularly test for Covid.

Recently the North Carolina Department of Human Services announced it would distribute more at-home Covid tests into the community.

While at-home tests are not counted, the county continues to monitor laboratory-based and health care provider-based testing, the results of which are reported to the state and county health departments.

Keeping track of cases and informing the public

“There’s still quite a bit of laboratory-based and provider-based testing happening in the community, to the tune of several 1000 tests every week,” said Raynard.

Raynard added that it is essential to stay prepared as the virus mutates. “We don’t know how those mutations might create consequential sub-variants or variants that circulate. We’re monitoring very closely.”

According to Washington, most current circulating cases are of the BA.4 and BA.5 variants. These Covid variants are more transmissible and dangerous to certain people, such as the immunocompromised population.

“Vaccines are still effective at keeping people from severe illness even with the sub-variants. So that’s good news,” said Washingon. But it is concerning that we will potentially have to experience an increase in community transmission during a period where we might have projected a cooling-off period.”

Currently, the county’s priority is keeping the public informed by their Covid response team of community outreach specialists, provider support specialists, and hotline staff.

“That team also works closely with a number of our community partners to ensure they have resources and supports to provide COVID resources and education to their constituents, whether they be houses of worship, neighborhood associations, or civically centered organizations,” said Washington.

Something to keep an eye on

Washington also spoke on the vaccine that is now available for Monkeypox.

As of today, Mecklenburg County Public Health will provide the Jynneos vaccine to treat and prevent Monkeypox.

Jynneos is used to treat smallpox as well. The side effects of Jynneos are similar to that of other vaccines, such as soreness at the injection site.

“While Monkeypox poses minimal risk to most people, we are working to offer vaccines to those at the highest risk,” stated Washington.

Currently, there is a minimal supply of Monkeypox vaccines.

“This is a good first step, but more vaccine is needed,” stated State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore.


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