BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — State health officials warn residents of the transmissibility of COVID-19 subvariant BA.5.

“What’s happened is we’re in a surge now, a big surge, essentially it’s become a surge within a surge,” said State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter.

The COVID-19 BA-2 Variant, which is part of the Omicron, is now surging into BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

“Had it not been for this BA.5 variant, we would have likely been at the peak and come down now,” said Kanter.

“The BA5 is the dominant subtype and is believed to be highly transmissible,” said Louisiana Department of Health Dr. Shantel Herbert-Magee.

High transmissiblility means that it’s very easily spread and contagious. It was announced Thursday morning that President Joe Biden was infected with COVID-19 for the first time.

“Most people are experiencing mild illness and there are those who require hospitalization,” said Herbert-Magee. “There are people who are experienced severe illness because we have increased hospitalizations.”

As shown on the Louisiana Department of Health website, over 3,400 cases were reported Thursday and over 740 were hospitalized. The department shows that there are over 1.3 million cases now in Louisiana.

“But we know that’s a fraction of the cases really out there,” said Kanter.

“We don’t have the most accurate number because a lot of people are doing the home tests,” said Herbert-Magee.

Home tests are not reported to the state, so they don’t show up in the COVID dashboard. While this helps with hospital overcrowding, the true number remains unknown with at-home tests.