SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – New Omicron subvariants are driving up COVID-19 infection rates.

These variants, BA.4 and BA.5 seem to be gaining traction here in New England, but health officials are saying that the hospitalization rates remain low.

Based on what health officials have seen so far, these COVID-19 sub-variants are not as likely to cause severe illness in patients and are presenting more respiratory symptoms, like a runny nose, which is why many people have been mistaking COVID for allergies.

Dr. Esteban DelPilar, Attending Physician, Infectious Diseases at Baystate Medical Center said, “Although they seem to be more transmissible, we are not seeing people get as sick compared to the other variants” he continued to say, “despite having an uptick in cases and diagnosis, we really haven’t seen an uptick in hospitalizations or death”

The doctor stated that many patients are waiting out their illnesses at home. He added that people who catch COVID, especially if they have a co-morbidity, do have to be careful of that and watch for more serious, pneumonia-like symptoms. If you are experiencing serious symptoms, make sure you take action to get appropriate care.

Statewide the positivity rate looks good, hovering around 5.39%. Hampden County however remains at high risk and Hampshire at medium.