MEMPHIS, Tenn.– BA.2, a sub-variant of Omicron, has now been detected in Shelby County. Medical experts say it may not be as severe as the Delta and Alpha variants, but high risk individuals should still be cautious.

Just when many have decided to unmask and get back to normal, BA.2 is spreading.

Memphian Wellington Woods said he hasn’t heard about BA.2 but he’ll do whatever it takes to stay safe and healthy.

“I’m going to do what I think is best for myself. I’m gonna take my shots and do the right thing and do that for my wife too,” Woods said. “I get tired of hearing about it but ain’t nothing you can do about it…ain’t a thing you can do about it.”

The good news is BA.2 is not expected to produce as severe of symptoms as previous Coronavirus variants.

“In general the Omicron in total, BA.1 and BA.2, have not been as severe and likely to hospitalize people as some of the earlier…the Delta and Alpha variants for example. But again, if you’re one of those people that’s at relatively high risk… organ transplantation…other immuno-suppressions…elderly age group you need to take it seriously,” said Dr. Steve Threlkeld, Infectious Disease Specialist at Baptist.

Dr. Steve Threlkeld says persons who have had BA.1, also known as the Omicron variant, may have some protection against the new sub-variant, but he stresses the importance of getting a booster shot.

“The immunity does wane over time, so every passing month we’re less protected form our last experience. And then we also see the fact that those over 65, for example, who were vaccinated at an incredible rate, great rate of vaccination of older folks in the United States, not nearly as many of them have gotten the booster though,” he said.

BA.2 has been detected in Shelby County and is expected to eventually become the dominant strain. But Dr. Threlkeld says that’s part of the normal progression of a new variant.

“People who have had COVID-19 recently, the Omicron variant, this part of the country was a little less vaccinated and so therefore got more of the Omicron, may be strangely a bit more protected globally in this area from BA.2. We’ll see,” he said.

So far, the BA.2 variant has not caused increased hospitalizations in other regions of the U.S. where it is now the predominant strain.

As for masking, Shelby County Health Department always follows the guidance of the Centers for Disease Prevention and the Tennessee Department of Health.

You can keep track of reported COVID cases, vaccinations, hospitalizations and more data in Shelby County with the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker map. Click here to view the map.