MADISON, Wis.— While new daily COVID-19 cases continue to decline from the holiday peak, the recent discovery of omicron subvariant in Wisconsin could put trends into a flux.

State officials said as of Feb. 3, they have discovered less than five cases of the new sub variant BA.2 in Wisconsin.

Dr. Ryan Westergaard of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services explained that omicron and the new subvariant behave the same; however a Danish study concluded that BA.2 is more transmissible than omicron.

COVID-19 could become endemic by the end of the year, Wisconsin’s top medical officer said Thursday.

He also added that new variant doesn't change that getting vaccinated and boosted is still the most effective way to fight COVID-19. He still warned that case counts could periodically spike but the disease likely will reach a stage in 2022 where case numbers remain fairly constant.

“Our hope is that we see more of the same which is a declining, day by day, week by week of this really extraordinary high peak that we saw from omicron. Whether the new variation, if it takes hold, will cause that decline to occur more slowly is something that has been theorized but we won't know until we observe it." said Dr. Westergaard.

Westergaard’s remarks come as a surge in Wisconsin case numbers driven by the omicron variant continues to subside. Wisconsin’s seven-day case average stood at 4,679 as of Thursday, down from 18,857 on Jan. 19. According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, as of Wednesday 1,442 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, down 389 patients from a week ago.

Some medical experts maintain that COVID-19 will never become endemic because the disease will be driven by new variants that can evade vaccinations and infect swaths of unvaccinated people. The medical community is closely watching a new descendant of the omicron variant that experts say is highly transmissible.

With how fast the omicron variant has spread, it has led Waukesha County to scale back its contact tracing efforts. 

State officials echoed that sentiment, saying it is more effective to put resources toward raising vaccination rates and responding to outbreaks to protect the most vulnerable.

Gov. Tony Evers’ office announced Thursday that 70 Wisconsin National Guard members have completed a two-week certified nursing assistant course and have deployed to alleviate staffing shortages at health care facilities around the state, including facilities in Mineral Point, Wisconsin Dells, La Crosse, New London, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Cornell, Woodville, Sturgeon Bay, Suring, Antigo, Weyauwega, Kaukauna, Kenosha, Waunakee, Glendale and Racine.