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Healthwatch with Dr. Leana Wen: a BA.2 variant surge; 2nd boosters?

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Dr. Leana Wen is an emergency physician and public health advocate who teaches at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health. She is a health analyst for CNN and a regular columnist for the Washington Post. (photo courtesy GWU)

It's the Midday Healthwatch, our monthly focus on public health issues with Dr. Leana Wen.

For weeks, the state testing positivity rate for COVID 19 has been below 2%. But it’s starting to creep up again. As of this morning, it stands at 2.42%, nearly twice what it was three weeks ago.

At last week’s Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, about a dozen political A-listers, including Attorney General Merrick Garland, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Congressmen Adam Schiff and Joaquin Castro tested positive for the coronavirus. Do the rising numbers and high profile cases indicate that we should once again avoid large gatherings? Dr. Wen says, “No.” She writes in the Washington Post, “At this point in the pandemic, we have to accept that infections will keep occurring.”

Is another Coronavirus surge in the cards? The BA.2 sub-variant strain is even more transmissible than the original omicron variant, which itself spread much more quickly than the delta variant. During the last surge, nearly half of Americans contracted the virus, but many fewer people became seriously ill than in previous surges. If there is another surge, are we better prepared, this time around?

Dr. Leana Wen is with us for the hour to talk about all the latest COVID news.

The former Baltimore City Health Commissioner is an emergency physician who's now a visiting professor at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health, a medical analyst for CNN, a health columnist for the Washington Post and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. She is also the author of a compelling memoir, Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health.

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The omicron variant of the SARS-Cov-2 virus that causes COVID -19 has spawned a variety of sub-variants that are less virulent but far more contagious than the original virus. (image credit Alexandra Koch/Creative Commons)

As always, we welcome your questions or comments for Dr. Wen! Call us: 410.662.8780. Email us at [email protected], or Tweet us: @MiddayWYPR.

Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)
Malarie is Midday's Supervisory Producer.
Rob is Midday's senior producer.