KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Two subvariants of COVID-19 are responsible for most new COVID-19 cases, according to health leaders — the BA.5 and BA.4 subvariants. The BA.5 subvariant accounts for around 65% of all cases in the U.S.
Knox County health leaders also said that they expect BA.5 to be the most common variant in the area, consistent with the rest of the state.
Health leaders warned that symptoms can fall under the same umbrella as the Omicron variant. However, they can vary depending on a person's vaccination status, age, prior infection, medication, and other health factors. The most common symptoms of the subvariant mimic the common cold, with sore throats and runny noses. However, it is still possible for worse symptoms to develop.
In Knox County, COVID-19 cases are trending slightly upward, according to experts. On Wednesday, the Knox County Health Department reported 811 new cases between July 10 and July 16. It nudged the 14-day trendline up slightly in the county.
They also said that over the past month, more COVID-19 tests reported to the state health department returned positive results. As of July 9, they said that around 37% of tests reported to the health department were positive for COVID-19. On May 9, the 7-day average was around 13%.
The Knox County Health Department previously said that with more at-home tests available to people, fewer cases were likely to be reported to the state. So, their data may not fully illustrate how many COVID-19 cases are actually in the county.
"That's just the tip of the iceberg. It's not a true reflection of the burden of illness in our community," Roberta Sturm, Director of Communicable and Environmental Disease at KCHD, previously said. "But, if we are seeing those numbers increase, it makes sense that those numbers of at-home tests or tests that aren't being reported are increasing as well."
Health leaders said people should make sure to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and receive boosters. A new version of the vaccine made by Novavax also uses more conventional technology to teach people's immune systems how to fight the coronavirus. It was recently endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.