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Covid NJ Summer 2022: BA.5 Variant Info · CDC Recommends Indoor Masking · New Jersey Department Of Health · Mental Health Association Of New Jersey (MHANJ) · More Mental Health Resources

Source: Patch.com New Jersey

The CDC recommended that people in 18 New Jersey counties mask up for public, indoor spaces. The state’s summer COVID-19 wave — driven by omicron strain BA.5 — has brought upticks in transmission and hospitalizations but, so far, no upswing in death rates from the virus.

After New Jersey had only six counties in the high category two weeks ago, the CDC gave 17 counties the mask recommendation last week. As of Thursday, Salem County shows high community levels, leaving Mercer, Gloucester and Cumberland Counties as the only places in New Jersey with “medium” community levels.

The CDC’s mask recommendations do not trigger any mandates in New Jersey. People may also choose to continue masking in any setting.

The CDC estimates that BA.5 has been the New Jersey region’s dominant strain since late June. (The CDC separates its most up-to-date variant-proportion data into regions. New Jersey’s region also includes New York, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.)

BA.5 made up an estimated 80 percent of cases in the region for the week ending Saturday, four weeks after representing 31.2 percent of infections, according to the CDC. BA.5 is the most transmittable COVID variant to date, with greater ability than prior strains to evade prior immunity from COVID infection and vaccination.

But so far, there’s no evidence that BA.5 causes more severe disease than the other omicron variants. And health experts believe the current vaccines still work well to prevent severe illness and death. Read more: COVID’s Most Contagious Strain Yet In NJ: What To Know About BA.5

Forty-eight people in New Jersey died from COVID in the past week, according to the CDC. COVID death tolls are a lagging indicator — meaning that, during a COVID wave, they tend to rise only after spikes in cases and hospitalizations. But death tolls in the state have yet to increase during the BA.5 wave, according to the CDC.

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