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As the fall 2023 semester picks up, COVID-19 cases have seen an uptick at the University of Nevada, Reno. 

Cheryl Hug-English, the medical director of UNR’s Student Health Center told the Sagebrush the cases are likely the Omicron EG.5 or Eris variant, the dominant strain currently spreading throughout the nation.

“Our case numbers are about the same for the first two weeks of the semester this year when compared to last year,” Hug-English said. “However, it is important to note that with the increased availability of self tests, the numbers are difficult to compare.”

A new variant called Pirola or the BA2.86 variant has surfaced as of Aug. 23 in five countries including the U.S. and the variant has been identified in nine states as of Sept. 8, according to the Centers Disease Control Prevention.

Hug-English said the Pirola variant is still too new, the CDC even noting there have been too few cases to determine whether it will cause more severe illness. Common symptoms of COVID-19 include: cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and altered sense of smell, and there have been no new symptoms of the illness due to Pirola or Eris. 

At the university, students can still get tested and vaccinated for COVID-19 for free at the Student Health Center from Monday through Friday, but Hug-English reminds students there is a new COVID-19 vaccine being released soon and health experts recommend getting the most current vaccine when it becomes available. 

As of Sept. 12, the CDC released an update that new, updated COVID-19 vaccines will be available by the end of that week in centers that typically give out vaccines and are recommended for everyone 6 months and older.

“Self-care is important. Eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, and managing stress can all help our immune systems,” Hug-English said. “Preventative measures such as frequent handwashing, staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations, and wearing a mask when around others who are ill or when case numbers are high are helpful strategies.  

To prevent the virus spreading to others, Hug-English reminds students to get tested and if positive, urges students to isolate themselves from others five days after the start of their symptoms. 

Jaedyn Young can be reached at or on Twitter @jaedyn_young3. 

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