‘Kraken' COVID Variant, XBB.1.5 Climbing in Midwest, Experts Say More Cases Expected

  • Source: WMAQ-TV NBC 5 Chicago
  • Published: 01/18/2023 12:00 AM

The new and highly contagious COVID variant dubbed XBB.1.5 roughly doubled its prevalence in the Midwest over the last week and experts say that growth will likely continue in the weeks ahead. The variant now makes up 43% of cases in the U.S. and more than 14% of cases in the Midwest, climbing in both metrics from 30.4% and roughly 7% the week prior, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The growth isn't unexpected as the omicron subvariant has been described as one of the most contagious variants of the pandemic so far. Experts in the Chicago area have been preparing for the variant to surge in the Midwest after the Northeast saw a rapid rise, with the variant now making up more than 80% of cases there. "I do expect that [XBB.1.5] will continue to increase here," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday.


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