Allergies and latest COVID variants can have the same symptoms, making it even more important to test

Tri-Cities, Wash. – The latest sub-variants of COVID-19’s Omicron variant such as BA.2 are some of the most predominant COVID cases in Washington state and show symptoms that are synonymous with allergies.

“Delta has pretty much died out. I would say that most of our COVID cases are Omicron sub-variants, if not all of them,” said Dr. Amy Person, health officer for Benton Franklin Health District.

Dr. Person emphasized that she has seen many Benton and Franklin County cases reported showing mild symptoms similar to that of seasonal allergies.

“In many cases, people went days with having symptoms, and they just thought they were allergies, but really they were COVID positive,” said Person.

Which is why Person reminds everyone one must be tested at least twice, especially if symptoms persist.

“You could start having symptoms and get a negative test. That does not mean that it’s a faulty test but rather that you have a lower level of COVID in your system, so it’s not picked up by the test,” said Person, “But you will need to test again either the next day or within the next couple of days, because that COVID virus in your system will grow, which will result in a test picking that up.”

BFHD also reports that their COVID numbers could be much higher during this recent spike of COVID cases, noting that cases are now underreported.

“Most people are now using at-home tests,” said Dr. Person.

The cases counted on BFHD’s website are from lab or PCR tests taken at a doctor’s office or pharmacy. If someone takes an at-home test, they have to manually report it in order for the case number to be officially counted.

“We do not require that people report it if they took an at-home test,” said Person, who noted that BFHD is shifting its focus from counting day-to-day cases and more just observing trends in spikes.

The latest spike in cases, beginning April 3, 2022, is being measured by water waste.

Water waste is collected from Kennewick, Richland and Pasco and tested in a lab.

The lab identifies the amount of SARS-CoV-2 concentrated in the water to determine if the cases are rising.

Higher levels of COVID detected mean cases would be rising. Lower levels indicate a decrease.

For example, the latest update according to BFHD’s website shows on April 24, 2022 the SARS-CoV-2 concentration level in waste water was 5,454,788.95.

One of the lowest concentrations it ever was, was February 27, 2022 at 269,395.86.

Benton County had 27 new cases Wednesday, while Franklin County had reported 3.

“The good news is, hospitals are doing well and deaths are continuing to decline,” said Person, “But people must still be aware, careful, and testing.”

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