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The new COVID: What you should know about the dominant variant

The new COVID: What you should know about the dominant variant
Posted at 5:54 PM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-05 21:20:34-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — We’re getting close to the third year of the pandemic, and there’s still a lot we don’t know about this ever-changing virus. Recommendations to stay healthy change slightly with each variant.

If you recently got COVID, you most likely had the Omicron BA.5 variant. Dr. Theresa Cullen, Director of Pima County's Health Department, says BA.5 is responsible for around 90% of positive tests in Pima County.

“This variant is more contagious and it tends to have more respiratory symptoms,” Cullen said.

Even after a week of suffering, it’s possible to get reinfected soon after.

“We used to think you had protection for 90 days at a minimum," Cullen said. "Now we think it’s less than that. It’s probably between 30 and 60 days you have protection.”

Cullen says if you start feeling sick after recently recovering from COVID, you should use a rapid test to see if you got it again. That’s because it’s likely the PCR will show positive, even if you’re not contagious.

“What we know is that the rapid antigen test, if that is negative, you are not infectious,” Cullen said.

If you feel sick, keep testing. It might take a few days for your test to show positive.

“If you’ve been exposed, you should rapid test 3-5 days after exposure," Cullen said. "If day three you’re negative and you feel poorly, test the next day and the next day after that.”

Cullen estimates Pima County currently has around 10,000 new cases a week. That’s half of what the county saw during the January COVID peak. Because of the high demand, the Health Department is extending its free testing and anti-viral treatment services until the end of September.