Harris County Public Health officials announced an uptick in COVID-19 cases this summer and advised the public to stay up to date with vaccines and get tested.

“Although the national emergency response to COVID-19 has officially ended, the SARS-CoV-2 virus still remains a threat to our community, and new variants can emerge at any time. We recommend that all people and their loved ones stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines,” Dr. Ericka Brown from Harris County Public Health said in a news release.

Zooming In

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that EG.5, the emerging Omicron subvariant, currently makes up the largest portion of new COVID-19 cases across the country, more than any other variant.

  • Cases for the EG.5 Omicron subvariant spiked from 1.1% of cases in May to 17.3% cases in the CDC’s August reporting period.
  • According to Harris County’s weekly COVID-19 tracker, new cases and hospital admissions are also on the rise.

What the experts say

Health officials from Yale Medicine said on their website that the EG.5 strain isn’t much different from other recent strains but is a descendent of the Omicron variant that first appeared in November 2021.

  • The noticeable difference, officials said, is that EG.5 has one new mutation in its spike protein that can potentially evade some of the immunity acquired after an infection or vaccination.

“Similar to all variants that have arisen, there is some extra degree of immune evasiveness because of a slight difference in genotype,” said Dr. Scott Roberts, Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist.

What you need to know

The county’s health department provides the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine series and boosters for free to all eligible age groups, according to Brown. Those interested can register online or call 832-927-8787 to schedule an appointment.