Experts dispel misinformation as Bi-State sees rise in COVID-19 cases

In the Bi-State, COVID-19 numbers are rising, but experts say there are likely more infections out there going unreported.
Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 5:56 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - In the Bi-State, COVID-19 numbers are rising, but experts say there are likely more infections out there going unreported.

In St. Louis County alone, the average number of daily new cases is 148.

As this new variant continues to be somewhat unpredictable, some people are getting confused on what they should do to stay safe.

Sweta Patel and her family all got COVID for the first time last month.

“Our symptoms were like pretty bad,” Patel said.

Patel said their initial symptoms were a fever and cough.

“It was definitely scary because it was the summertime because you don’t really expect to get sick in the summer,” Patel said.

Patel said they’ve all been vaccinated and had a booster shot.

However the CDC is warning the new COVID variant can still get people who have been vaccinated sick.

“With different variants and more boosters, I feel like it is for the average person to kind of understand it is kind of complicated,” Patel said.

That’s what Washington University infectious disease specialist at BJC, Dr. Rachel Presti, is trying to clear up.

The CDC said this variant may be more able to cause an infection in people who have had coronavirus or had a COVID-19 vaccine.

But Dr. Presti said that’s being misinterpreted.

“You might be a little more at risk from this new variant,” Dr. Presti said. “That doesn’t mean you’re more at risk than somebody who is not immune. That means there’s a new kid in town, and you might be a little more likely to be infected with this one. Somehow, that was misinterpreted as people who are immune are more likely to get infected than people who are not immune.”

As the virus adapts, it mutates and can get more people sick.

Mercy Department of Medicine chair and infectious disease physician Dr. Farrin Manian said it’s the same flu-like symptoms, but people aren’t getting more severely sick with this variant.

“We’re looking at a population who has been somewhat experienced in terms of being exposed to these types of viruses,” Dr. Manian said. “What’s changed is that the current variant seems to be kind of evading the immune system enough that even if you’ve the vaccine in the past or the actual infection, you may still get it. But you’re not at any higher risk of getting it.”

A new booster vaccine is expected to come out within the next few weeks, specifically tailored to fight against this variant and others that are forming.