The Chelan-Douglas Health District (CDHD) is carefully observing a new strain of the COVID-19 Omicron sub-variant as they monitor COVID-19 infection rates in our region.

Earlier in January, CDHD Health Administrator Luke Davies reported that the number of influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases were beginning to drop, but did not have a clear determination on COVID-19 cases.

According to a weekly report from the CDHD, the Chelan-Douglas region received 76 cases (60.97 per 100,000) in the last week, and 203 cases (162.86 per 100,000) in the last two weeks.

Now, Davies is predicting a possible uptick in COVID-19 cases within our region after noticing that a new variant known as XBB.1.5, or “Kraken,” is becoming more prevalent on the east coast of the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), the new COVID-19 variant known as XBB.1.5, makes up about half of all cases in the U.S.

This new variant can be transmitted much faster and is more resistant to a vaccine.

Davies states that although infection rates for XBB.1.5 occur quickly, they are not expected to overwhelm hospital systems like how the Omicron variant did last year.

His organization is currently monitoring case activity in western Washington to determine when the variant is expected to reach our region.

On top of this variant, the CDHD is monitoring a COVID-19 safety signal, defined as information on a possible relationship between an adverse reaction and a product, regarding Pfizer’s COVID-19 Bivalent booster.

According to the CDC, health administrators are investigating whether those ages 65 and older who took Pfizer's bivalent booster are more at risk of an ischemic stroke.

Davies is still encouraging people 65 years or older to get the COVID-19 vaccine or the bivalent booster to stay protected. He also says those wary of the bivalent booster from Pfizer can take Moderna’s bivalent booster instead.

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