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Increase in Long COVID Cases Could Continue

A recent increase in cases of long COVID—the continuation or appearance of virus symptoms months after initial infection—could go well into this year, according to Medscape.

What’s going on: “About 17.6% of those surveyed by the Census Bureau in January said they have experienced long COVID. The number for February was 17.4[%]. Compare these new numbers to October 2023 and earlier, when long COVID numbers hovered between 14% and 15% of the US adult population as far back as June 2022.”

  • Researchers and clinicians say they are also seeing an increase in long COVID cases among patients who have had the virus two or three times.
  • The numbers could be even higher, however. In many cases, people either test positive at home or don’t know they have COVID-19.

Higher in rural areas: COVID-19 is still a problem in rural communities. In Maine, wastewater virus counts have been far higher than the national average, and the percentage of people there experiencing long COVID rose to 9.2% in January from 5.7% last October.

Why it’s important: “Attitudes toward the pandemic have resulted in relaxed protection and prevention efforts,” said Dr. John Baratta, who runs the COVID Recovery Clinic at the University of North Carolina.

  • Baratta said he’s seeing a long COVID uptick among the unvaccinated as well as among those who have contracted COVID-19 several times.
  • “There is [a] low booster vaccination rate and additional masking is utilized less [than] before.”
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