CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The new COVID-19 subvariant xbb 1.5 is proving to be very contagious. Doctors say that the subvariant xbb is hitting the northeast hard. Data shows it circulating in our area at a rate of 75%. Compare this to the rest of the country, where it’s at 40%.

“It’s very infectious. Even if you’ve been vaccinated or boosted likely you will still get this infection. so far it’s not associated with severe infection,” Dr. Armando Paez told 22News.

Although it can evade antibodies, studies show that the bivalent booster appears to offer some protection because the strain remains a member of the omicron family. While XBB is not known to make people sicker, it does pose a risk to those who are vulnerable to weakened immune systems. People are hearing about the new variant and are making a commitment to staying well.

“I think as long as you stay healthy and get vaccinated and make sure you are up to CDC guidelines then you’ll be safe,” Daniel Cousin from Belchertown said.

Despite the new variant, the Scantic Valley YMCA has seen a steady flow of members, but they are still taking precautions.

“We’re being very cautious, we have our cleaning stations all over, we offer masks to anyone who needs them and we are keeping certain capacities, both in our pools and our group x classes,” said Debbie Kelder, Executive Director Scantic Valley YMCA.

COVID symptoms have not changed with this new variant. You can expect cold-like symptoms, like running nose, headache, and cough.

Fortunately, most of us are familiar with the precautions to take to avoid infection, including social distancing, masking in areas that aren’t well-ventilated, and hand washing.