St. Vincent's doctor says rising COVID numbers concerning but don't panic

Connecticut's daily COVID positivity rate is now up to 10.35%, one of its highest rates since January.
But health experts say that number means something different now than it did earlier in the pandemic.
They say it's concerning, but people shouldn't panic.
It's because of a highly contagious spinoff of the BA-2 strain of Omicron that is ramping up in the United States, including right here in Connecticut.
The strain caused more than 1 in 3 new COVID cases in this country just last week.
Researchers believe several Omicron subvariants have a mutation that helps the virus cling tighter to our cells.
"It's no surprise to me," said Dr. Jo-Anne Passalacqua, an infectious disease specialist at St Vincent's Medical Center.
She says people feel comfortable that life has gotten back to normal, but the virus isn't gone.
"We just passed through spring break, Passover and Easter holidays and I think for the first time in a couple years those holidays were treated very much in the traditional way," said Passalacqua.
Passalacqua says what's different now compared to months ago is that more people are fully vaccinated.
"They're spending four or five days at home in bed, but we're not seeing the numbers of people entering the hospital system that we did a year or two ago," said Passalacqua.
She says because fewer negative numbers have to be reported that may also skew the numbers.
Passalacqua advises people to still consider wearing masks and stay clear of crowded spaces.
News 12 Connecticut reached out to the state Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani for comment but she was not available.
Juthani has been quoted as saying, "At 10% positivity in Omicron, we had many more hospitalizations when we went through the winter."
She says statewide mandates are not expected.