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COVID-19 levels low in Roanoke region, but officials are watching new subvariant

COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations in the Roanoke area have been at a low, stable level for the past several weeks.

The region has been averaging about 150 to 200 new cases per week. Fewer than ten residents of the Roanoke City-Alleghany Health District are hospitalized due to complications from the virus. Those figures are dramatically lower than in late January when the district was reporting nearly 4,000 new cases every week and almost 150 residents were hospitalized.

But the director of the health district says experts are watching omicron subvariant known as BA.2. Doctor Cynthia Morrow said it’s now the dominant strain in Virginia and is likely to cause some increase in cases, though it’s unclear how much. "We continue to watch for our trends, continue to anticipate that what is happening in Europe tends to precede us by a few weeks."

Morrow also said health officials anticipate approval of a 4th COVID-19 vaccine dose. The FDA gave initial approval for those over age 50 on Monday. Morrow recommends those who are eligible continue to keep their vaccinations up to date. "Both natural and vaccine immunity wane over time," Morrow told reporters. "And if a 4th dose is recommended, which we anticipate, we would strongly encourage those people who are eligible to ensure that they are up to date on their vaccines."

David Seidel is Radio IQ's News Director.