ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Wednesday afternoon, local medical leaders addressed the rise in hospitalizations as it relates to increasing COVID cases due to the omicron sub variant BA.2. 

Leaders say BA.2 may not be making most people as sick with COVID in general, but it can be serious for those immunocompromised, and the elderly. 

Aside from the vaccine, they say masks have helped with overall community health. 

“Two years in, I believe it’s appropriate to reframe our thinking that coronavirus is going to be part of the human experience and its going to persist and it will probably evolve with time,” says Dr. Mayo with Rochester Regional Health.

As of Wednesday, Monroe County’s COVID dashboard is reporting 695 new cases with 169 people hospitalized in the Finger Lakes Region, 19 of which are in intensive care.

On the topic of masking, medical officials say they believe it is still necessary for certain settings. 

“COVID, even if it is becoming less virulent still poses a risk to our most frail patients,” Dr. Apostolakos with URMC said. “The question you’re asking about community masking is really a public health decision and one that the community is really going to have to weigh in on.”

Hospital leaders with URMC reported about 2/3rd of patients at Strong were admitted for other health issues and then tested positive for coronavirus.

Masking up, they add, had been helping with other public health illnesses, too, like the flu.

“We now have 11 patients in our hospital admitted with influenza. Certainly as far as healthcare settings go where we have at-risk patients, elderly patients, immunosuppressed patients, I see no change in masking here in the foreseeable future,” Dr. Apostolakos adds.

Looking ahead, leaders say they anticipate within the next year or so, we’ll get a better understanding of some patterns with COVID, projecting it may turn out to be a seasonal vaccine and masking period, as with the flu.