Avera Medical Minute: COVID-19 update heading into summer

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 2:49 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - COVID-19 numbers have increased modestly over the last few weeks. Now that the BA.2 variant is present, Dr. David Basel says that has contributed to the increases. Despite hospitalizations dropping to a low in the middle of May, there has been a slight uptick in hospitalizations. While no hospitalizations would be ideal, Avera has fewer than 40 people hospitalized as opposed to the hundreds in hospital beds during the peak. Even when factoring in take-home tests, the numbers seem promising in terms of identifying and minimizing large outbreaks.

“We follow the number of tests that we do in our own lab, but also the percent positivity of those tests that we do in our own lab,” Dr. Basel said. “If we were under testing we’d expect that percent positivity to really be elevating. It has gone up a little bit, concurrent with other numbers, and we think we’ve got a good pulse with what is going on within our communities.”

Epidemic and pandemic waves historically seem to get lower and become less severe which Dr. Basel says reflects the current omicron variant. Despite continual spread, not as many people have been admitted to the hospital, and hopefully, the virus becomes similar to a common cold over time. The virus is still prevalent and Dr. Basel says if you are 65 years or older, have chronic conditions, and are eligible you should go ahead and get a booster shot instead of waiting until fall.

For the 2-5 age group, some new developments could occur later in June. The FDA sub-committee, Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, should meet in the middle of June before the CDC takes the latest recommendations such as Pfizer dropping the age range of toddlers to get their vaccine.

When asked about traveling in the current COVID-19 climate, Dr. Basel says on top of monitoring your own symptoms, to be privy of the flow of the virus at your destination.

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