OLATHE, Kan. — The Johnson County Health Department warns the number of COVID-19 cases are starting to climb again across the county.

Experts say the BA.2 variant is to blame this time.

The positivity rate is up to 5.9% as of Thursday morning. That’s higher that it’s been in weeks according to a presentation to county commissioners. The health department warns those levels are likely much higher than what it’s already seeing.

“I will say that with the current advent of at-home tests and the availability in our community, these numbers are likely dramatically undercounting what is happening in our community,” Elizabeth Holzschuh, director of epidemiology, said.

Some experts said that the U.S. likely won’t see a surge in cases from the BA.2 variant because we were hit so hard by the omicron variant at the beginning of the year, according to Holzschuh. But she’s concerned that may not be the case.

“I’m not entirely ready to rule that out given what we’ve seen in places like the UK who had similar omicron surges and then their BA.2 surges equal the same number of hospitalizations,” Holzschuh said.

Johnson County now has just three contact tracers, down from about 30 at the height of the pandemic. The health department says their tracers are working on current clusters reported at daycares and schools.

“Today we got a report of about 25 cases from a single school district, which is a dramatic increase, but the majority of those don’t have labs in our system because of, we assume, at-home tests. So, our case investigators will be following up with those families to try and determine if they were at-home tests and see if there are links in that school that are causing that spread,” Holzschuh said.

The health department said investigators have to call most of the families right now to determine the severity of symptoms, because of at-home testing that’s now available.

The health department is bracing for more positive COVID-19 cases because of other indicators relied on in the past.

“When we look at this in addition to some of our wastewater sampling which is also showing an increase in concentration through Johnson County, it does appear as though BA.2 which has hit other countries as well as other states is here and causing an impact,” Holzschuh said.

She warned that people who are high risk or gathering in large venues should wear masks as an extra precaution to prevent transmission at this time.