CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Mecklenburg County moved to the highest CDC COVID-19 Community Level Friday as county health officials report a continued increase in the number of positive cases.

Mecklenburg County Public Health officials said the latest increase is likely driven by the Omicron BA.5 variant.

The new variant appears to be more contagious and more resistant to immunity from vaccines or previous COVID-19 cases.

Health officials said the BA.5 variant represents the majority of new cases in the U.S. and in the county.

“At this highest Community Level, we all must take steps to slow the spread and use the effective tools we have available: get up to date with your vaccines, stay home if you’re not feeling well and test, and meet outdoors when possible,” said Dr. Raynard Washington, Mecklenburg County Public Health director. “We all need to do our part.”    

County officials said people should consider wearing a mask when they are in public indoor spaces. Anyone at risk for serious illness are advised to consider avoiding gatherings.