A less severe but more contagious version of COVID-19 continues to impact Central Minnesota.  Dr. George Morris from CentraCare joined me on WJON.  He says the BA .5 sub variant of the Omicron COVID-19 variant is the one making its way through the community this summer.  Dr. Morris says CentraCare has 20 people currently hospitalized at St. Cloud Hospital with this version of COVID-19 but none of them are sick enough to be in the ICU.

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This version of COVID typically includes the following symptoms; cough, fever, sinus pressure and upper respiratory congestion.  Morris says recovery time can vary but usually it takes about a week.  He says once someone sees symptoms they are contagious for about 5 days.

Dr. Morris says they have consistently had at least one COVID-19 patient at St. Cloud Hospital since COVID started impacting our community in 2020.  He says that they had 1 hour during this span without at least 1 patient and that's it.  Morris says COVID continues to mutate which is making the vaccines less effective.  He says instead of the 90% effectiveness the vaccine used to have with the Alpha and Delta variant it is more like 65% in preventing vaccinated people from getting this new sub variant.  Morris says that is why we are seeing so many more cases.  He says the vaccines do help reduce the severity of symptoms for those contracting break through cases.

Dr. Morris says Moderna is working on an updated vaccine that will improve the effectiveness against the newest COVID-19 Omicron sub-variant.  He says the virus is mutating so fast that it is difficult for the vaccines to keep up.  Morris says having COVID gives people added immunity and it may protect them for about 60 days.  He says they used to say it protected people for at least 90 days but because of the quick mutations that number has changed.

Dr. Morris expects a recommendation for a COVID-19 booster and flu shot this fall and may have a recommendation for the upcoming school year within a month.

If you'd like to listen to my conversation with Dr. Morris it is available below.



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