CNN  — 

Covid-19 infections are on the rise, with most US states reporting an increase in cases. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highly contagious BA.2.1.21 subvariant of Omicron is now the dominant strain of coronavirus nationwide.

Two years into the pandemic, many aren’t sure what to do after testing positive for Covid-19. Should they isolate, and if so, for how long? How important is it to see a doctor? What therapies are available, and who is eligible?

To help answer these and other questions, I spoke with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She is also author of “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health” and the mother of two young children.

CNN: It seems like a lot of people are getting diagnosed with Covid-19 right now. I have friends who have been very careful throughout the pandemic who are now testing positive. Why is that?

Dr. Leana Wen: First and most importantly, we are dealing with an extremely contagious subvariant. The original Omicron variant was already more contagious than Delta and previous variants. Then, we had BA.2, a subvariant of Omicron that was more contagious than Omicron, and now we have an offshoot of BA.2, called BA.2.1.21, that appears to be even more transmissible.

A more transmissible variant means that the activities we thought were relatively safe before are now higher risk. This doesn’t mean that we should avoid all activities, but rather that people who have been very careful before may be getting infected now because of how contagious this subvariant is. Also, people previously infected with Omicron have some degree of protection against this new subvariant; those not previously infected are now more susceptible. Fortunately, it does not appear that this variant causes more severe disease in most people, and the vaccine and first booster still provide good protection against hospitalization and death for those who are infected.