Summer COVID wave emerges: 5 notes

As "FLiRT" coronavirus variants account for about 77% of infections, COVID-19 cases are ticking upward this summer, according to CDC data. 

Here are five things to know from the CDC's June 21 update:

1. Test positivity increased from 5.4% to 6.6% in one week. Wastewater viral activity and emergency department visits for COVID-19 are also growing. 

2. The CDC estimates that "COVID-19 infections are growing or likely growing in 39 states and territories, declining or likely declining in 0 states or territories, and are stable or uncertain in 10 states and territories."

3. The "FLiRT" variants are a group of strains that all start with the letters "KP" or "JN," and they have been steadily rising in dominance. Experts say these subvariants are more contagious than JN.1, which dominated this past winter, according to the Los Angeles Times. Another variant, LB.1, is newer but is already the third-most popular strain as it accounts for 17.5% of cases. 

4. On June 13, the FDA instructed vaccine manufacturers to use the KP.2 strain for 2024-2025 COVID-19 shot formulations. KP.2 currently makes up 20.8% of infections.

5. Since January 2024, hospital bed occupancy by COVID-19 patients has fallen from 4.3% to 0.7%. Overall hospitalization and death rates remain low, but since June 1, hospitalizations are up 25% and deaths have increased 16.7%.


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