COVID Update: New variant causes concern

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There has been a recent surge of COVID cases given a new variant that is more contagious and potentially more dangerous than others. The CDC has now recommended wearing masks in Maricopa County to try and help stop the spread.

There has also been a recently discovery of long term affects of COVID. On the show today, Will Humble, Executive Director of Arizona Public Health Association, talks about all these recent updates and what we can do as a community to stay safe.

Current Look at COVID

“There’s a lot of infections happening right now, it’s really going gangbusters in terms of just flat out infections. BUT, we’re not seeing a big influx in in-patient hospitalization and ICU use.”

The new variant of Omicron, BA.5, is more contagious than all the previous versions. Humble says, that even while fully vaccinated and boosters, this new variant of Omicron can still cause infections. Humble said that new waves tend to appear every six months and given the last one was in December/January, we are likely to see the next wave appear in during the holidays.

“You have waning immunity over that period, your antibodies drop over that six-month period, leaving you susceptible to infection.”


Humble said that moving forward, as the new waves appear, they will be more contagious but there will continue to be less hospitalization and deaths.

“The goal of a virus is to reproduce itself. The way you do that is become more contagious over time and less lethal. Plus people have had multiple infections and vaccinations and boosters and so forth so they’ve got the residual T cells and antibodies on board.”

Vaccines are being created and tested for the new variant and Humble said that we will start to see those appear around Flu shot season.


Humble talked about how masking up is still recommended for those that are immunocompromised and/or have medical conditions and that it is still important to be careful about where you go out in public. He also spoke about the controversy behind public health officials talking about masking up.

“Public health in the future is going to lose their street credibility in the future with people…if we as a trade, we at public health, appear to be too risk averse, people are going to just say we cried wolf and they’re not going to listen to us.”

Long Covid

The impact of long COVID is still an issue for the population and given that the BA.5 variant is still new, Humble says public health officials do not know yet as to what effect the variant will have on it.

“The more times you get infected, the more likely you get those long COVID symptoms.”

Ted ended the interview by having Humble talk about a few highlights and low points of the recently ended legislative session.

Will Humble, Executive Director of Arizona Public Health Association

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