CLEVELAND — It’s a new year, and with it comes a new COVID-19 strain, a contagious strain expected to soon spread rapidly throughout Ohio.
The new omicron subvariant is known as XBB.1.5. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it accounts, right now, for almost 41% of confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide.
The CDC said the new strain appears to be spreading at a high rate, especially in the northeastern states including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic are now prepping for the strain to hit Ohio at a high rate.
“I do expect that the proportion of cases attributable to XBB 1.5 will probably increase similarly,” said Dr. Daniel Rhoads, a pathologist for the Cleveland Clinic.
The CDC has said it’s highly contagious, but it’s unknown if it’s more contagious than other omicron subvariants.
“We’re watching that closely,” Rhoads said. “With COVID there seems to be emerging variants that make it more infectious:”
Rhoads said that while they’ve consistently seen more deaths than expected, the “big peaks of deaths have decreased.” He said he hopes it stays that way and remains optimistic, but is still uncertain of what’s to come.
“Whether or not we’ll see a big peak in deaths this winter remains to be seen,” he said.