New COVID-19 variant spreads as Kansans travel for the holidays

photo by: Matt Rourke/AP

In this Sept. 14, 2021, file photo, a syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa.

TOPEKA — Health officials warn travelers to watch out for a highly contagious new COVID-19 variant when making plans this month.

During a Tuesday update on COVID-19 cases, the University of Kansas Health System reported treating 24 COVID-19 patients this week. Dana Hawkinson, director of infection prevention and control at the system, said the slight increase — up from 16 cases the week prior — showed the virus is still spreading in Kansas communities.

“We know the virus is circulating out there, so everybody be careful and have a plan when you are traveling and going to visit families and friends,” Hawkinson said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a spike in a new subvariant, the HV.1 COVID-19 variant. For the week ending Nov. 11, the latest national data shows COVID-19 hospitalization rose about 8.6% and COVID-19-related deaths rose about 9.1%. During that same time frame, 16,239 people were hospitalized due to the virus.

Andrea Garcia, vice president of science, health and medicine at the American Medical Association, said there has been a seasonal spread.

“We have a new COVID variant called HV.1 that we do need to keep an eye on,” Garcia said. “It’s just been a few short weeks and HV.1 has become the variant responsible for most COVID cases here in the U.S.”

Kansas COVID-19 cases haven’t been widely documented by the state since the end of the federal COVID-19 emergency declaration. Since the CDC stopped tracking cases of infection, hospitalizations are now the primary indicator of COVID-19 spread.

While cases in general remain low, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas have documented rising clusters of cases. In Kansas, CDC data shows around 197 new weekly hospitalizations.

— Rachel Mipro reports for Kansas Reflector.


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