California’s Silent COVID Surge: What to Know About the FLiRT Subvariants


COVID-19: A Wake-Up Call as Variants Surge

As the warm embrace of spring fades into summer, California finds itself amidst a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. This latest wave is not to be dismissed lightly, as it’s driven by a relentless onslaught of subvariants that have outwitted their predecessors.

The Elusive FLiRT Subvariants

The COVID-19 landscape is evolving rapidly, and the latest challengers to our health are the FLiRT subvariants. These crafty strains, known officially as KP.2, KP.3, and KP.1, are direct descendants of the infamous Omicron variant. Despite their familial ties, they have managed to surpass the dominant winter variant, JN.1, in a stealthy coup.

By the third week of May, KP.2 had emerged as the dominant coronavirus variant in the United States, accounting for an alarming 28.2% of infections. Another subvariant, KP.1.1, also made its presence felt, contributing 7.1% to the country’s caseload.

The Summer Surge: A Question of When, Not If

Health experts cautiously predict that these latest subvariants could trigger a summer surge in COVID-19 cases. However, it’s worth noting that current data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that COVID-19 cases have been steadily declining since January, currently remaining at “minimal” levels.

The Uncharted Territory

Much about these newfound variants remains shrouded in mystery. Scientists are eager to determine whether FLiRT’s evolutionary trajectory will continue before winter’s arrival, typically a period of heightened infection and hospitalization rates. Another lingering question is whether these subvariants will find their way into the updated fall COVID vaccine, ensuring broader protection against the evolving viral landscape.

Protecting Yourself: A Multifaceted Approach

Until more is known, it’s crucial to take proactive steps to shield yourself from these relentless subvariants:

  • Vaccination: Ensure you are up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccinations. The primary series and booster shots remain vital in combating the virus’s most severe effects.

  • Testing: Regular testing is key to early detection and isolation, especially if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or exhibit symptoms. Home testing kits are readily available and provide convenient and immediate results.

  • Isolation: If you test positive for COVID-19, immediate isolation is essential to prevent spreading the virus. The CDC’s latest guidelines allow for a return to school or work after one day of isolation, provided symptoms have significantly improved and you wear a high-quality mask for at least five additional days.

    Data sourced from: