As schools resume and summer wanes, the health department is closely watching COVID-19 hospitalization rates and wastewater surveillance to track disease activity in our communities as the new COVID-19 EG.5 variant circulates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), EG.5 is the most prevalent variant in the U.S. and accounts for more than 17% of cases nationwide.
At this time, there is no evidence that the EG.5 variant increases disease severity compared with other recent variants. Although we have seen a small increase in hospitalization rate in Fairfax County, the hospital admission level remains low and wastewater surveillance for the Northern Region of Virginia shows levels either below detection or unchanged for the most recent reporting period available. Follow the COVID-19 County Check to monitor the situation in Fairfax County.
While the increase in the EG.5 variant may not be considered of high concern to most people in the general population, those who are more vulnerable to serious illness are urged to take steps to prevent illness and protect their health. The CDC provides a personal COVID-19 plan template that provides tools, information and action steps to share with your family, friends, and healthcare provider.
As the weather turns, and people spend more time indoors and near each other, health officials remind residents to monitor for respiratory symptoms, and test, either at home or at a medical facility, if needed. Updated COVID vaccines and boosters will be available this Fall, which are based on a recent Omicron variant (XBB.1.5). Experts state that since the new EG.5 variant is genetically similar to previous Omicron strains, including XBB.1.5, the updated boosters are expected to provide protection for this strain of the virus.
Stay tuned for future updates concerning vaccine availability that will be posted on the health department’s website.