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One in Five Infected in Calif. Gets Long COVID Symptoms

Results from a new survey of more than 100,000 COVID-19 survivors released Tuesday by genetics company 23andMe offer further evidence of a biological cause for the persistent syndrome known as long COVID.

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Patients give themselves COVID tests at a testing site at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium in Miami.
Mike Stocker / South Florida/Sun Sentinel
(TNS) - Bay Area coronavirus infections now have surpassed the peaks of the devastating wave of early 2021, but strong vaccination levels and immunity are keeping hospitalizations to manageable levels; deaths remain notably low. A large survey of COVID-19 survivors from genetics company 23andMe offers further evidence of a biological cause for long COVID and sheds light on who is most at risk.

Latest updates:

UCSF's Wachter reconsiders benefits of Paxlovid

UCSF Chief of Medicine Dr. Bob Wachter said he would think twice about recommending the COVID drug Paxlovid after what his wife Katie Hafner experienced: a difficult rebound case of COVID-19 after she took a course of Paxlovid. Wachter in a lengthy Twitter thread weighed the pros and cons of the drug, noting that several studies have shown its efficacy in reducing hospitalizations by up to 89% in high-risk individuals — "a huge effect," he said. But he paused at increasing reports of infection returning after someone takes the drug, and noted the second round is often worse. "While rebound cases seem to be mild & self-limited, rebound is still a big bummer," he said. His wife returned to isolation for about a week and her symptoms worsened, he wrote. Wachter said ultimately he would take the drug if he was infected because it can curb severe outcomes like hospitalization and death, "and my confidence that rebound would be inconvenient but not ultimately super-risky."

Big jump in Bay Area COVID case rates over past month

The nine counties that make up the Bay Area region currently have the highest coronavirus infection rates in the state, behind only rural Del Norte County. The Bay Area is reporting about 53 new cases per 100,000 residents as of Tuesday, up from 18 per 100,000 a month ago and 42 last week. San Francisco reported about 61 daily cases per 100,000 residents Tuesday, nearly twice the statewide average of 36 per 100,000. A month ago, San Francisco was tallying 24 cases per 100,000 and last week it was 54.

The case rates for the Bay Area translate to roughly 4,500 new coronavirus cases per day reported as of Tuesday — about the same as the peak of the winter 2020 to 2021 surge, which was the deadliest period of the pandemic. Case counts likely are much higher because so many people test at home but do not report their results to health authorities and many people do not test at all.

Large study reveals who's at risk for long COVID

Results from a new survey of more than 100,000 COVID-19 survivors released Tuesday by genetics company 23andMe offer further evidence of a biological cause for the persistent syndrome known as long COVID. Read the full story on 23andMe's survey of genetic testing customers that shed light on who is most at risk for post-COVID problems like body aches, brain fog and chronic fatigue. Results also offer new clues about what may cause the confounding symptoms.

U.S. above-normal death count surpasses that in most rich nations

The United States saw more deaths above normal levels during the pandemic than most other wealthy countries, according to World Health Organization data analyzed by the New York Times. In the U.S. , deaths were 15% percent above normal, behind just four other large countries in the same income group: Chile , the Czech Republic , Poland and Romania. More nations categorized as upper-middle income or low or and low-income had above-normal death counts at or above the U.S. level, including a dramatic 97% higher than usual number in Peru, the data shows. But deaths in the United States rose even higher than in several countries with far fewer resources, including Argentina and the Philippines .

1 in 5 infected adults experience long COVID, says CDC

About 1 in 5 adults between ages 18 and 64 who was previously infected with the coronavirus has reported persistent symptoms more than four weeks after being diagnosed, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. Among those 65 and older, 1 in 4 survivors reported symptoms consistent with the conditions known as "long COVID" or "post-COVID," including heart, lung, kidney and gastrointestinal issues, pain, fatigue, loss of smell or taste, and mental health problems. "As the cumulative number of persons ever having been infected with SARS-CoV-2 increases, the number of survivors suffering post-COVID conditions is also likely to increase," the researchers wrote. The study looked at data from March 2020 to November 2021, before the winter surge fueled by the coronavirus omicron variant. They estimated the number of those infected has increased substantially since then.

BA.2.12.1 now makes up nearly 60% of cases in the U.S.

BA.2.12.1, the highly transmissible sublineage of the coronavirus omicron variant, accounted for 58% of cases in the U.S. last week, according to data published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . The variant is crowding out its parent BA.2 subvariant, which made up 39% of cases sequenced by federal health officials. The original BA.1 omicron, which drove the winter surge, now makes up less than 3% of the proportion of cases nationwide. In the Bay Area, BA.2.12.1 and BA.2 are evenly divided with about 48% of the cases each.

Mayor of San Jose tests positive for COVID-19

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo announced on Monday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. "After feeling under the weather this evening, I tested positive for COVID-19," he said on Twitter. "I am thankful that my vaccination has prevented any serious symptoms so far." The mayor encouraged others to keep up on their vaccination schedules, test frequently and "mask up indoors."

California's 2nd-largest school district outlines rules for return of mask mandate

San Diego Unified School District outlined criteria that will guide the reinstatement of mask mandates. In a letter to families that was obtained by CBS News 8, officials from California's second-largest school district said that starting Wedensday they would evaluate each school and require students to wear masks indoors for the remainder of the 2022 academic year and summer when the school hits specific risk metrics: at least three COVID outbreaks at a school within 14 days, and more than 5% of the school population infected; or when 10% or more of the student population is absent each day due to illness over a three consecutive days. If San Diego County is classified as having a high level of COVID risk by the CDC, all schools in the district will return to indoor masking requirements.

UCLA research team receives $1 million grant to study long COVID

A team of researchers at UCLA Health has received a $1 million research grant from the American Heart Association to study the cardiovascular effects of long COVID. Over the next three years, the group will investigate whether lingering fragments of the coronavirus might remain even after the body has cleared an infection and contribute to the ongoing symptoms experienced by patients with long COVID. "We believe this is a novel hypothesis for what's causing the long-term effects seen in patients with long COVID, and our hope is to ultimately identify effective therapies for this new, often debilitating syndrome," said Dr. Jeffrey Hsu, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine. The team will also investigate the COVID-19-associated risk of myocarditis and pericarditis.

One in 16 asymptomatic people in S.F. testing positive in UCSF hospitals

Dr. Bob Wachter , chief of medicine at UCSF, tweeted that an average of 6.2% of people not exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms tested positive for a coronavirus infection, according to UCSF hospital data. "In a crowd of 150 folks ... there's a 99.993% chance at least 1 person has Covid," Wachter tweeted.

Children's COVID cases top 100,000 in U.S. for the first time in 3 months

There were 107,140 pediatric COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S. last week, with children representing over 19% of cases nationally, according to data published Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association . The figure marks a 313% jump in pediatric COVID cases since they dropped to their lowest point this year in the first week of April, with 25,915 cases reported. It is also the first week since Feb. 24 that children's cases have topped 100,000.

S.F. urges boosters for children 5-11 amid rising cases

San Francisco's health department on Monday recommended that parents and caregivers schedule appointments for children ages 5 to 11 to get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, as new cases continue to swell in the city. Health providers started offering the additional doses, for children who are five months out from the two-dose primary vaccine series, on Friday. "Even though children and teens tend to have mild symptoms, getting COVID-19 can be disruptive and have highly negative consequences to the family and other family members," said Dr. Susan Philip, San Francisco's health officer. "The COVID-19 vaccine, and a booster dose when eligible, lessen the chances of infection and severe illness so that kids can have a healthy end to the school year and the start of summer vacation." San Francisco , which is reporting the highest rate of new cases in the state, is averaging 68 daily cases per 100,000 residents, which is far above the statewide average of 35 per 100,000.

FDA committee to meet next month to review Pfizer, Moderna vaccines for children

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory committee will meet next month to review emergency use authorization submissions from Pfizer and Moderna for their respective coronavirus vaccines for children, the agency said Monday. The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet June 14 to review Moderna's submission for vaccines for children 6 to 17 years old. The next day, it will meet to review Moderna's submission for vaccines for children 6 months to 5 years old and Pfizer's for children 6 months to 4 years old. Children under 5 are the only age group currently not eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. Children 5-17 may receive the initial series and booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine, the only one currently approved in the U.S. for people under 18. The most recent group approved for Pfizer boosters was children 5-11, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on last week.

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