MEMPHIS, Tenn. — COVID cases are on the rise in Shelby County and it has given health leaders cause for concern.

Dr. Shirin Mazumder at Methodist Hospital said they’re starting to see hospitalizations increase as a new variant wave sweeps through. 

“We are seeing the number slowly start to creep up,” Dr. Mazumder said.

Wednesday, there were 35 COVID-positive patients in the Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare system. Six were admitted in the past 24 hours.

That’s compared to 33 on Tuesday, 30 on Monday and 13 this past Friday. Mazumder said three are in the intensive care unit. 

“It’s definitely concerning, and I think the reason why we’re seeing this is because we have a new dominant strain that’s circulating and that is the BA2 subvariant and we know that is more contagious, more infectious than the previous variant which was BA2,” Dr. Mazumder said.

Dr. Mazumder said we’ve seen this throughout the pandemic. Whenever there is a new variant surging, we tend to see cases go up.

“There’s a number of things people can do to protect themselves. Number one if you’re not feeling well, stay home and get tested,” Dr. Mazumder said. “And to take an additional layer of precaution for instance wearing a mask if you’re in a crowded, indoor setting that’s not ventilated well.”

While we’re just getting into this new surge, Dr. Mazumder has some good news.

“But the good thing, what we’ve seen with these variants that are taking off more recently is that they’re more transmissible but they don’t necessarily cause more severe disease which I think is a really good sign, but of course we’ll have to wait and see how this plays out,” Dr. Mazumder said.

In addition, Dr. Mazumder said another way people can stay protected is staying up to date on their vaccines.