RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The CDC now estimates more than half of all new COVID-19 cases in the United State are the BA.2 subvariant also known as “stealth omicron.”
While it’s not yet clear if this will cause a rise in cases in North Carolina, the head of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Safety says he’s watching it closely.
“We’re watching BA.2 overseas, we’re watching everything very carefully,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley. “We’re going to make sure North Carolina has the information it needs, the tools it needs to stay prepared for this virus.”
In North Carolina, state data shows the BA.2 subvariant of omicron makes up nearly 19 percent of new COVID cases. That is substantially lower than the nearly 55 percent seen nationally.
Scientists say BA.2 appears to spread more easily than the initial version of omicron, and while it’s still unclear whether an increase in the subvariant will cause case numbers to rise in North Carolina, Kinsley says it’s a good idea to be ready.
“Right now, I’d recommend individuals be vaccinated and boosted, but also have at-home rapid tests available in your cupboard,” he said. “If you’re trying to decide whether it’s too much pollen in the air or potentially COVID, you can do that at-home test.”
Kinsley said North Carolina is buying more treatments and tests.
“The state’s doing the same thing,” he added. “We’re building our stockpiles of testing and treatment resources.”
Without additional funding from Congress, though, Kinsley warns that money for some of those resources will eventually run out.
Right now, he says North Carolina has plenty of antiviral pills and monoclonal antibodies, but he emphasized, “What is important to remember is that all of these products are being purchased by the federal government. There is no private market for us to buy it outside of getting it directly from the federal government. We need Congress to act.”