black woman in mask walking by street bakery
Photo by Uriel Mont on

A new coronavirus variant known as XBB has surfaced in the U.S., currently making up 3.1% of new infections nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC officials said the variant is mainly circulating through the northeastern part of the country, with more than 5% of infections in the regions from New Jersey through Maine linked to XBB, CBS News reported.

Earlier this month, CDC officials said the variant is potentially doubling in proportion about every 12 days. That could be faster than the pace of the BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 variants that are now dominant throughout the country.

Though the variants BA.4 and BA.5 have virtually disappeared or become rare, CDC officials have voiced concerns about the XBB and whether it will again lead to stricter coronavirus-related restrictions.

“There’s a lot of worries that a new variant could emerge and start us all over again,” said Ian Williams, CDC deputy director for the Center for Preparedness and Response, CBS News reported. “So, there’s a lot of work focusing on making sure we’re prepared and thinking about that and watching if it emerges around the world, so we can be prepared.”  

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