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What Is the New COVID-19 Variant?

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As COVID-19 continues to impact our lives, new variants of the virus have emerged and raised concerns among the general public. The healthcare professionals at Health Services of North Texas (HSNT) have been closely monitoring these developments and are committed to keeping our communities informed. Below, we discuss the basics of the coronavirus, how variants develop, and what residents of Denton and Collin Counties can do to stay safe.

If you or your loved ones experience symptoms of COVID-19, we encourage you to receive the appropriate care. Our Denton, Plano, and Wylie, TX, clinics are open to both existing and new patients.

What is a variant, and why does it matter?

A variant occurs when a virus mutates or changes genetic material. This happens naturally as viruses replicate and evolve over time. Nevertheless, the mutations may result in different characteristics of the virus, such as how easily it spreads or how severe the illness can be. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported multiple variants of the COVID-19 virus.

What do we know about the new COVID-19 variant?

In August 2023, a COVID-19 variant called BA.2.86 (nicknamed "Pirola") was detected in the U.S. and several other countries. Researchers are still analyzing Pirola to understand the potential impact it may have on the spread and severity of the coronavirus. Though it may be more capable of causing infection in people who have already had COVID-19, early studies suggest that methods like vaccinations and wearing masks are still effective.

The good news is that thanks to modern technology and global collaboration, we can quickly identify new COVID-19 variants like BA.2.86 and adapt new prevention strategies. This means the world is not as vulnerable as it was in 2020. Of course, it does not reduce the importance of practicing safety measures.

What can you do to stay safe from the COVID-19 variant?

The best way for communities to stay safe is to continue following the recommended guidelines for COVID-19 prevention. Patients in Denton, Plano, and Wylie, TX, can do their part by adhering to the following:

  • Get vaccinated: If you're eligible, getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and reduce the spread of BA.2.86. Health Services of North Texas offers vaccinations at our clinics.
  • Wear a mask: Masks play an essential role in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The CDC suggests wearing masks in public settings, especially when social distancing is not possible.
  • Practice good hygiene: Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. Avoid touching your face and surfaces that may be contaminated with the virus.
  • Stay home if you're sick: If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, isolate yourself by staying home. Seek medical care if symptoms worsen.
  • Stay informed: Keep up with the latest updates from reliable sources like the CDC and local health authorities. HSNT regularly shares relevant information about Pirola and other variants on our platforms.

Stay safe and informed with Health Services of North Texas

We understand how concerning new variants can be for our community. By staying vigilant, following recommended safety practices, and getting vaccinated in Denton and Collin Counties, we can continue to help protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. Remember, we can overcome this pandemic by working together. To schedule an appointment with Health Services of North Texas in Denton, Plano, or Wylie, TX, click here.