What is the new "Eris" variant and why is it alarming health officials?

New York is seeing a new surge in COVID-19 cases, with the state's Department of Health officials saying cases have skyrocketed by 55 percent over the past week. That's roughly 824 new cases per day.

Additionally, hospitalizations increased by 22 percent, which means 100 people are seeking emergency care each day.

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In addition, a new variant has been recently discovered and experts think it might be more transmissible than other omicron subvariants.

Eris? Eris? Who the hell is Eris?

This joke would make a lot more sense if you know the Alice Polka, but I'm leaving it here anyway. Besides, if the world's on fire, I might as well laugh at what I find funny.

Anyway, back to talking COVID.

The new variant Eris, also officially known as EG.5, is the new dominant strain in the United States and currently accounts for 17 percent of all new infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As for what this funky new variant is all about, the World Health Organization has dubbed it under "variants under monitoring."

Health officials say the Eris strain of COVID is more evolved than its omicron predecessors. Experts believe it to be more infectious than prior strains and that it is more efficient at evading immunity from prior infections.

Covid Cases Rise Again Across Much Of The Nation
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As for whether or not it is more deadly, health officials say it is too soon to tell, but appear to be optimistic that it is just more annoying than lethal.

Interestingly enough, some health officials are saying its symptoms differ than prior COVID strains.

T. Ryan Gregory, an evolutionary biologist who works at University of Guelph's Department of Integrative Biology, discovered some interesting news about this variant.

He explained in a social media thread that it "isn't super notable in terms of specific mutations and is not even the fastest new XBB variant, but it is increasing quickly in frequency and is one to watch even if it's not expected to cause a large wave."

As for symptoms of an Eris infection, doctors have reported treating people with runny noses, headaches, mild or severe fatigue, sneezing as well as a sore throat.

Why some are blaming Barbie

Remember that super popular movie that hit box offices like two weeks ago? Yes, some people are blaming the "Barbie" movie for the resurgence - and not "Oppenheimer."

Press Junket And Photo Call For "Barbie"
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Basically, the people who already hated the "Barbie" movie have found a shiny new reason to condemn the Greta Gerwig film. They say that COVID is back is because everyone went to see "Barbie" in theaters.

For reference, the movie generated over $1 billion in the global box office after just 17 days after its release.

On the other hand, "Oppenheimer" only crossed the $500 million mark - but it is currently the highest grossing film set in World War II.

It also should be noted that a good chunk of people saw the two movies back to back because of a social media trend dubbed "Barbenheimer."

Still, Barbie haters are saying the pink freak caused a new COVID wave because more people saw it. They also have a nifty new term for it: Pinkdemic.

Since COVID cases are up 55 percent in New York, they technically have a leg to stand on here.

But virologists aren't giving the theory too much merit. Some say the main culprit is the weather. Officials say the wet weather is driving more people indoors to find ways to entertain themselves, while the unprecedented heatwaves are also causing people to seek places with air conditioning.

Others note that we have traditionally seen a bump in cases around the end of summer, and the data right now would make it the fourth consecutive year this happened.  As for why that is, it could be due to weather patterns or the result of the cyclical nature of COVID-19, as some doctors pointed out.

But, if it's easier to blame "Barbie," go ahead and hate on Margot Robbie. Thank you for telling me in the simplest way possible that a catalytic converter would be way more fun on a first date.

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