AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – COVID-19 cases are rising across the Amarillo area, Texas, and the nation.

The city of Amarillo is seeing more than 800 more active cases than we had this time last month.

Dr. Rodney Young, Regional Chair of Family & Community Medicine at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center said what is causing the rise in new cases is a new subvariant.

“It started with the Omicron, then with the BA.2 and now there is a subvariant of BA.2,” said Dr. Young.

He said cases are likely to continue to rise as July 4th draws near and families gather.

“When you have occasions to gather, that is the way it spreads very easily person to person,” said Dr. Young.

Dr. Young added as cases do continue to rise, an upside is that they have not seen a rise in hospitalization the way they did in the earlier stages of the pandemic.

He said patients with the subvariant are not presenting with severe COVID-19 symptoms, some are presenting with a little cough, runny nose, and watery eyes.

“A number of the cases that we are diagnosing now that weren’t COVID a few weeks ago, tend to be folks they are feeling like they are having flares in allergy symptoms or cold type symptoms,” said Dr. Young.

Dr. Young said that those who are vaccinated and who get subvariant COVID illnesses are less likely to get less severe forms of the illness or experience long covid.

Dr. Young added the virus is here to stay and it will always be a part of the disease landscape to some extent and added what the medical community hopes to happen is that it moves from a pandemic to an endemic.

“Some years or some times are worse than others, but hopefully there is enough immunity around and enough measures that we can take to help mitigate the spread within a community,” said Dr. Young.

Dr. Young said he doesn’t have an exact answer to when that could happen, but he said it’s possible we could be seeing the early stages of that now.

Dr. Young reiterates that the best way to keep yourself protected from these rising cases is social distancing, good hygiene practices, and getting boosted if you haven’t done so already.