No statewide restrictions anticipated in NJ as omicron sub-variant spreads

Nationwide, 23% of COVID cases are BA.2, according to the CDC.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- After two years of COVID-19, and with restrictions mostly lifted, not many people are ready to track a new variant.

"At this point, I'm just over it," said Gwen Williams of Woodlynne, NJ, who adds she still wears a mask in many public spaces.

While cases in the U.S. are dropping, a new omicron sub-variant, BA.2, is surging in parts of Europe and Asia. On Thursday, South Korea tallied record numbers of cases and deaths.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said this week he expects BA.2 will soon be the dominant strain in the U.S.

"We have to be careful that if we do see a surge as a result of that, that we're flexible enough to reinstitute the kinds of interventions that could be necessary to stop an additional surge," said Fauci.

The CDC released variant breakdowns for the United States by region for the week ending March 12.

Nationwide, 23% of COVID cases are BA.2.

Region 3, containing Pennsylvania and Delaware, has 20% of cases caused by BA.2.

But for Region 2, containing New York and New Jersey, 39% of cases are the new sub-variant.

"Variants that are prevalent in Europe will show up in the northeast, and in New York probably because there's lots of travel between those regions, and then sort of spread south from there," explained Villanova University professor Dr. Elaine Youngmana.

She says there is some good news.

"It looks like the severity of BA.2 will be similar to omicron. It also looks like vaccine effectiveness against BA.2 will be similar, maybe a small decrease," said Youngman.

On Thursday afternoon, Gov. Phil Murphy and Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli released a statement about the global uptick in cases: "We will continue to closely monitor virus activity in the state, in particular, for impacts to our health care system."

It also said while an increase in cases in New Jersey is likely, at this point no statewide restrictions are anticipated.

"We expect COVID to continue to mutate and cases to continue to ebb and flow. Moving to an endemic status still means we must all take personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones," the statement said.

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