HomeLocalB.5 COVID Cases Spiking In Cowley County, Health Department SaysB.5 COVID Cases Spiking In Cowley County, Health Department SaysTue, July 19, 2022 by Brady BaumanSHARE NOW (Photo by Brady Bauman)The City-Cowley County Health Department says respiratory infections in the county have risen dramatically over the past few weeks.According to a news release from the health department Monday, during the past four weeks a sharp increase in new COVID-19 infections has been noted in Cowley County.The new infections are connected to the newest Omicron variant named B.5. Omicron was the COVID-19 variant that resulted in over 3,000 new cases this past January.“The virus has mutated and once again has become easier to contract than previous variants of the same lineage,” the health department stated.The current incubation time for new B.5 cases is shorter on average, manifesting in 2-3 days compared with the 5-6 day incubation period of past variants. This shortened incubation period has resulted in the rapid expansion of new cases during this “spike” in COVID-19 activity.Currently, the health department is seeing 10–15 new cases daily in the county. During the first 15 days of July 2022, 177 new cases have been found. In 2021, Cowley County totaled 153 COVID cases in July.Close contact continues to be the pathway of greatest exposure and once again we are seeing families affected by the illness.Symptoms of a B.5. infection are similar to a severe head cold and seem to include persistent headaches, pronounced body aches, and overall fatigue. People who are ill have reported that they are remaining symptomatic for 8 to 10 days.The B.5 variant has become much better at skirting existing immune response in people, and this ability to mutate has resulted in re-infections for some people who previously were infected and ill.The B.5 variant has not overwhelmed critical care facilities, however, it has contributed to the death of two local residents during the past three weeks.“Both residents did have additional co-morbidities which were also factors in their passing,” the health department said. “Early detection is key to stopping this wave of new cases.”Any person who begins to feel symptomatic is encouraged to be tested. Home testing kits are still widely available. Daily testing occurs each morning at the Health Department Winfield location and there are still local testing providers in the county that can also provide the service. Call 620-221-1430 if you need to be tested.