Arizona health expert says new COVID variant not more dangerous than previous versions

Apr 20, 2022, 4:45 AM
(File Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)...
(File Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(File Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — An Arizona public health expert says a new variant of COVID-19 has taken over the state, but it’s not any more lethal or dangerous than previous versions of the virus.

Will Humble, director of the Arizona Public Health Association, said Tuesday that the BA.2 variant is slightly more contagious than the original omicron strain, but doesn’t see the virus resulting in a return of restrictions.

“I don’t see it as any kind of a game changer,” Humble told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.

“It’s here, it’s going to be here. We’re in the endemic phase of this.”

The variant is responsible for a vast majority of cases in the country, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed to as a reason to extend the mask mandate for public transportation until May 3 and allow more time to study the strain.

However, a federal judge struck down that mandate on Monday, saying the CDC failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking procedures that left it fatally flawed.

Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport announced after the decision that it would no longer require masks for visitors or employees.

Humble said he doesn’t see a compelling reason to bring back COVID restrictions in Arizona, adding only a total reboot of the virus is what it would take for him to advise a return of mask mandates.

“I think it would have to be a brand new variant that escaped the immunity that we’ve all achieved either through vaccination or previous infections,” he said. “It would have to be a game changing new variant that was a like COVID-22 or something like that.”

He does recommend people who have chronic medical conditions talk to their doctor about receiving a fourth vaccination shot.

“The best thing is to always talk to your primary care doctor and and see what they say,” Humble said. “But the benefits outweigh the risk. That’s for sure for everybody and the benefits are bigger in those high-risk populations.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Firearms on display at the Legendary Guns store in Phoenix in 2018. (File photo by Daria Kadovik/Cr...
Neetish Basnet | Cronkite News

Arizona gun sales expected to surge, again, after mass shootings

Gun sales in Arizona have surged in recent years and experts say they could jump again after recent mass shootings.
10 hours ago
A man is in custody after more than 1,200 catalytic converters were recovered from a storage unit i...

Man arrested after 1,200 catalytic converters found in Phoenix storage unit

A man was arrested Thursday after police recovered over 1,200 catalytic converters in a Phoenix storage unit.
10 hours ago
(Facebook File Photo/Lake Pleasant Regional Park...
Luke Forstner

Valley expert shares lake safety tips for Memorial Day weekend

People looking to cool off at a lake this Memorial Day weekend are asked to do so safely after a string of drownings.
10 hours ago
VR equipment and a version of the TASER 7 that utilizes VR technology for training, is demonstrated...
Taylor Tasler

Phoenix Police use virtual reality headsets to train for calls in the field

The Phoenix Police Department is one of the first law enforcement agencies in the country to use virtual reality to provide officers training in the field. 
10 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Fan Fusion,  Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for The Latin Recording Academy...

Weekend guide: Here are the biggest events around the Valley for May 27-29

Need something to do? Here's a look at some of the biggest events happening around the metro Phoenix area for the weekend of May 27-29.
10 hours ago
(ADOT Flickr Photo)...

No Valley freeway closures planned for Memorial Day weekend

Drivers won't have to worry about scheduled closures on metro Phoenix freeways this Memorial Day weekend, ADOT said.
10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Christina O’Haver

Stroke month: Experts call attention to stroke prevention

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
Dr. Richard Carmona

Have you gotten your booster shot?

Do you remember when you got your last COVID-19 vaccination? If it has been more than five months since you completed your primary vaccination series, it’s time for you to get your booster. You may be eligible even sooner depending which vaccine you received. If you are over the age of 50 and received your […]
Arizona health expert says new COVID variant not more dangerous than previous versions