CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 14: In this photo illustration, an at-home COVID-19 test by Abbott shows a positive result on September 14, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. At-home tests are becoming increasingly difficult to find despite manufacturers boosting production as COVID-19 cases rise in schools and employers increase monitoring. (Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

COVID 19 cases have been rising in North Carolina recently and a lot of health experts are blaming it on a new variant of the disease.  The new variant is the BA.5 variant which is being called the ninja variant.  A map from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services shows that in the last week, 18 counties are in orange, which is considered “high risk” when it comes to the coronavirus.  Mecklenburg County and most of the counties in surrounding areas are in the yellow which is in the “medium risk” category.

Dr. Katie Passaretti with Atrium Health says the new variant is the primary strain of COVID-19 in the Charlotte area. Those fully vaccinated can get it, as well as those who have had COVID-19 before.

Still, health officials said the best protection against severe illness is vaccines and booster shots.  The doctor added that vaccines are being developed to target Omicron variants, with hopes of releasing them in the fall.  The Food and Drug Administration just authorized Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in adults.