We are all dreading seeing this virus attack our world once again. As much as we may wish for the COVID pandemic to be over, there is a definite surge in cases with a new highly mutated variant called BA.2.86 a.k.a "Pirola", along with EG.5, a.k.a. “Eris".
“Overall, I would expect cases and hospitalizations to increase – then decrease again before they rise in the late fall and early winter,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at UCSF.
The summer surge in COVID-19 spread could extend into fall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said hospitalizations rose yet again last week by another 19%. Deaths from the virus also saw a large jump: 21% in one week. The spread of the virus appears to be a problem just about everywhere. Only a few states – Alaska, New Hampshire and North Dakota – saw COVID-related hospital admissions drop last week. The other 47 states saw hospitalizations remain stable or increase. More than half of states – 26 to be exact – experienced a “substantial increase” in people being admitted with COVID-19, the CDC said.
The biggest spike was in South Dakota, where hospitalizations increased by more than 127% in a single week, according to CDC tracking.
A Covid outbreak tied to a City Council meeting in Nashville this month left more than a dozen people infected, including council members, city employees and at least one reporter. One of the people who tested positive for Covid — Freddie O’Connell, a City Council member who is in a Sept. 14 runoff election for mayor — said it was a stark reminder that the virus had once again taken hold in the community.
“All year long, there have been many Covid spikes in my personal network, but it hasn’t felt like this, where all of a sudden we’re back to events that we used to hear about in 2020, where suddenly dozens of people in one fell swoop all get it,” Mr. O’Connell said in an interview from his home, where he had been marooned for a five-day quarantine. “I haven’t really had to think about the phrase ‘superspreader event’ in a long time.”
Dr. John M. Coleman, a pulmonary and critical care doctor at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said he expected Covid infections to continue to increase this fall and winter. “Moving forward, we have to learn to live cohesively with Covid,” Dr. Coleman said. “Covid is always going to be around.”
So far, EG.5 “seems to be the same in terms of symptoms,” says Thomas Russo, M.D., a professor and the chief of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo in New York. The same goes for “Pirola,” infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, previously told Prevention. Those can include, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
“Most people will have an upper respiratory tract infection, but some people will develop more serious disease, which will be a lower respiratory tract infection,” Dr. Russo says. “Some people develop non-respiratory tract symptoms, like diarrhea.” Conjunctivitis, a.k.a. pink eye, may also be a symptom, Dr. Schaffner says.
Personally, having had COVID-19 in 2020, I can tell you that it was no picnic. I was very ill, not to the point of hospitalization yet I could not stay awake, smell, taste, eat or practically do any functional task with severe fatigue. My husband and son both were very ill as well. We were the lucky ones that made it through with limited issues.
Now, experiencing many of the effects of long-haul COVID (one of the many names that post-COVID sufferers refer to the ongoing illness by), I can tell you that if you can avoid getting COVID in the first place—do whatever it takes to avoid it!
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