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New COVID-19 variant responsible for 40% of current cases

COVID testing
Posted at 6:05 PM, Jan 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-04 17:05:00-05

As people return to work and school after the holidays, the XBB 1.5 COVID-19 variant now comprises about 40% of COVID cases in the United States, according to NBC, doubling in the past couple of weeks.

The variant is made up of two Omicron variants fused together with significantly more mutations than other variants, according to Dr. Thomas Vendegna, the Chief Medical Officer for French Hospital Medical Center.

“The symptoms are pretty much the same that we can tell so far, you know. It's mainly respiratory, like cold-like symptoms. And then, you know, some people get it more severe with bronchitis and pneumonia and things like that,” he said.

Dr. Vendegna does anticipate another surge as classes resume and more people head back to the office.

“It's not so much because the XBB variant is causing more disease itself, it's more because we had the holidays and people are mingling more,” he added.

This potential surge comes as some of California's COVID-19 regulations are changing.

As of Dec. 31, 2022, the state's COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave has expired; however, Exclusion Pay is still in effect while the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) reviews proposed Non-Emergency COVID-19 Prevention Regulations. OAL has 30 days to complete its review.

Meanwhile, Dr. Vendegna continues to recommend people mask up, test for COVID-19 frequently, and stay home if you are not feeling well.

*This story has been updated to reflect that exclusion pay has not yet expired as originally stated in the Jan. 3, 2022 story.