SHAWNEE COUNTY (KSNT) – COVID-19 numbers are on the rise across much of Kansas and a similar trend can be seen in Shawnee County.

“We’ve seen that slight increase of cases coming up and it continues to increase,” said Carrie Delfs, Clinical Services with the Shawnee County Health Department.

In the last week there have been over 7,000 new cases in Kansas along with five deaths. It’s difficult to pinpoint one specific reason why cases are climbing, but the Shawnee County Health Department thinks they may have a culprit.

“We are seeing a wider spread of the BA.5 variant causing an increase in cases,” Delfs said.

In early July, the BA.5 variant emerged. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the new strain is the most contagious one yet and it now accounts for over 50% of the cases across the country. One mom is doing all she can to make sure her daughter isn’t a part of that statistic.

“I try to be very mindful of where I’m going with my daughter,” said Chloe Zoesch, Shawnee County resident. “She hasn’t had the vaccine only because we don’t have access to it yet.”

Another way to combat the virus is getting tested. Free COVID tests are offered by the Shawnee County Health Department every Tuesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at their health department location.

As for when the COVID numbers can be expected to go back down, it remains unclear at this time.