NORTH SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The latest omicron subvariant has been dubbed XBB1.5. Counties have stopped reporting local data on covid. According to New York State, as of January 5, the region’s average percent positive is 7.2 percent. Over the past 24 hours, 36 deaths reported statewide.

If you needed to be tested for the flu, COVID or RSV, there was a free option on Thursday, January 5. Drakos Clinical Laboratories had walk-in testing at the North Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps (NAVAC).

“They’re showing up with head congestion, coughs, overwhelming fatigue, fevers and it’s crazy because it all looks the same,” said Heather Drake Bianchi, the CEO of Drakos Clinical Laboratories. “Depending on what people have it effects other people differently.”

Of the tests completed Drake Bianchi said, “We’re seeing a huge influx in influenza and RSV. I expect COVID numbers to up now that the newest variant has just turned into the most common in New York State.”

That variant is XBB 1.5. Dr. Stephen Thomas, Upstate Medical University’s Global Health Director said it is a combination of two variants.

“And unfortunately it seems to be taking on the worst characteristics of both in terms of it, being much more infectious,” Dr. Thomas explained. “That’s one problem. The other problem is the potential for it to evade immunity, both immunity from natural infection and immunity from vaccination.”

Dr. Thomas said this is going to be the dominant variant.

“Get your updated booster. It’s the best chance of avoiding bad outcomes if you get infected with this subvariant,” said Dr. Thomas.

He said the rates of boosting with bivalent are very low and that’s why he is urging those who haven’t been boosted to do so because this subvariant is more contagious.

Drakos Clinical Laboratories is planning another free walk-in testing event. They said if you need to get tested before then you can contact them. Visit or call (315) 621-0263