Studies have suggested that coronavirus subvariants XBB, BQ.1.1 and BQ.1 are particularly good at evading prior immunity from infections and vaccines.
Subvariants BQ.1.1 and BQ.1 make up the vast majority of new infections, according to the CDC, reaching nearly 68% this week.
The rise of omicron subvariants XBB, BQ.1.1 and BQ.1 come as the formerly dominant BA.5 falls to less than 12% of new cases and COVID-19 infections and transmission are on the rise following the Thanksgiving holiday.
The majority of the country – 72% of counties – are experiencing a “high” level of COVID-19 transmission, according to the CDC. That’s a significant jump over the previous week, likely due to people gathering over the recent holiday and colder weather pushing more people indoors.
But less than 10% of counties are considered to be under a CDC recommendation to wear masks while indoors in public areas under the agency’s “community levels,” which is the guidance it adopted in February that diverges from transmission levels.