ST. LOUIS – COVID cases are on the rise again in St. Louis, putting the city and county in the CDC’s “red zone” just as summer is getting underway. Health experts are now asking people to go back to being cautious and proactive.

Dr. Farrin Manian, an infectious disease doctor with Mercy St. Louis, says the surge is due to a new subvariant of the famed omicron variant of COVID-19.

“It seems to be more transmissible than the original omicron, which was more transmissible than the delta; so it’s a very highly contagious virus and can be easily transmitted from person to person,” he said.

Manian adds there are even new symptoms—such as laryngitis—that could be caused by the virus. The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force says daily case counts are now higher than the peak of the delta surge.

The doctor says the rapid rise in cases is lent to a mix of more summer social gatherings, less immunity from the waning effects of the vaccine, and fewer people wearing masks.

“We definitely want to minimize the severity of this disease so people don’t end up in the hospital and unfortunately, in some cases, somebody could still die from COVID,” Manian said.

Manian’s best advice: social distance when possible, get the booster if you’re eligible, and wear masks indoors.

In terms of testing, the doctor says the rapid tests and at-home tests are still not very reliable. If you still have lingering symptoms, Manian recommends taking a PCR test at your local health facility.