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Corpus Christi health expert warns of potential danger of new Omicron variant

BA.5 is being dubbed by many experts as the worst version of the Omicron variant yet. It has proven to be more resistant to vaccines than its predecessors.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A new variant of COVID-19 has doctors across the nation on alert, with hospitalization numbers in Nueces County steadily increasing. 

BA.5 is being dubbed by many experts as the worst version of the Omicron variant yet. It has proven to be more resistant to vaccines than its predecessors, and is driving up transmission rates across the country. 

The Center for Disease Control said BA.5 now accounts for nearly 54% of COVID-19 cases in the United States. It is also likely the most highly contagious virus the Coastal Bend has seen of the COVID-19 family so far. 

In each county the CDC measures what they call "COVID-19 community levels." It takes into account factors such as hospital admissions and new cases.

Hospital numbers in Nueces County are going up, with the number of patients going from 57 on July. 1, to 89 on Tuesday, along with more severe symptoms. 

3NEWS spoke with Dr. Kim Onufrak with the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District about the new variant. She said that now more than ever, it is important that residents get vaccinated. 

"Working in clinics, working in the ER, the majority of the cases that are coming in are people who are unvaccinated or they are not up-to-date," Onufrak said. "So even though you might have your two primary doses, if you’re not up-to-date with your booster or even your second booster, you’re more susceptible to getting this.”

In addition, Onufrak recommends that residents wear a face mask if they plan to be in public spaces. A recommendation she said is not just for those who are immunocompromised.

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