LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL News) - A "summer surge" in COVID-19 cases is being seen across the country, and just about every state is seeing a rise in numbers, including Louisiana.

Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that some parts of the country - along the West Coast and in parts of New England - are seeing a major surge. But there are signs of a slight surge even in areas that are not as aggressively on the rise.

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Louisiana, according to CDC numbers through June 22, shows a 2 percent rise in positive tests in the Bayou State.

Credit: CDC
Credit: CDC
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It's not much if you look purely at the numbers, but some healthcare agencies are showing concern. The good news is that hospitalizations and deaths remain low in Louisiana, but the "summer surge" (which experts do believe will remain mild) can still have an impact on some folks with comorbidities.

The surge is being fueled by new variants that health agencies have been tracking.

JN.1 and FLiRT

As most viruses do, COVID-19 has continued to mutate, with more variations becoming prevalent as spring turned into summer.

The Shreveport Times spoke with a health expert to learn more about one set of variants, collectively known as "FLiRT."

Dr. Krista Queen, Director of the Viral Genomics and Surveillance Center for Emerging Viral Threats at LSU Health Shreveport, viral threats specialist said, "FLiRT is an interesting name for this new variant and it's referring to a couple of different mutations that are present and actually it's not just one variant, it's a group of variants."

According to Dr. Queen and the CDC, there are a few symptoms specific to FLiRT to watch out for.

• Fever or chills
• Cough
• Sore throat
• Congestion or runny nose
• Headache
• Muscle aches
• Difficulty breathing
• Fatigue
• New loss of taste or smell
• "Brain fog" (feeling less wakeful and aware)
• Gastrointestinal symptoms (upset stomach, mild diarrhea, vomiting)

However, there are currently mixed beliefs on whether or not this could result in a "summer surge."

"The FLiRT strains are subvariants of Omicron," Yale Medicine wrote on its site. "One of them, KP.2, accounted for 28.2% of COVID infections in the United States by the third week of May, making it the dominant coronavirus variant in the country; another, KP.1.1, made up 7.1% of cases."

This set of variants is related to the JN.1 variant that was spreading in late 2023.

The JN.1 variant was reported to have some unique symptoms, which appeared among those who tested positive for the strain in Louisiana and across the country.

Trouble Sleeping: 10.8 percent of those diagnosed reported trouble sleeping.

Increased Anxiety: 10.5 percent of those diagnosed reported more anxiety.

However, one of the best ways to avoid the disease? Being outdoors in the open air. And, seeing as most folks are on vacation or heading to one soon, the odds of a serious surge remain slim.

Speaking of vacation, here are some rules should you find yourself headed to a nearby beach.

9 Beach Rules Experienced Louisiana Vacationers Want You to Know

Louisiana loves the beaches of Alabama and Florida. The great eastern migration begins at the end of May and continues through September. For Louisianans who are just starting to vacation at the beach, here are a few things you should know before you go.

Gallery Credit: TRACY WIRTZ

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