For several weeks, the COVID-19 death toll for Virginia eliminated fatalities in our area while the case count continued to rise. No more. Deaths from the latest variations of the virus has killed at least two near our county over the past couple of days.
Tuesday’s daily report by the Virginia Department of Health included death in Roanoke County (which borders Floyd County from the Northeast) and then another one in Carroll County (bordered on the Southwest) on Wednesday.
As this is written, we are still waiting for Thursday’s report. Deaths are now back on the rise in Virginia and throughout America. More than 97,000 have died in the report on Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control on cases in our nation.
Floyd County continues to have two or more cases of COVID-19 daily and reported six new cases over the weekend. To date, 2,711 have tested positive for the disease in our rural county while the case account of more than 1.8 million in Virginia is expected to hit two million an counting this summer or early fall.
Last week, the Old Dominion reported deaths in single digits. Wednesday’s report put the toll at 27.
Wife Amy and I were two of the COVID cases diagnosed as positive last month. We spend Memorial Day in quarantine at home. On Monday of this week, a Carilion cardiologist told me that lingering respiratory problems and continued exhaustion are not unusual for “someone your age,” a term one hears a lot at age 74.
CDC reports a surge of cases in Mississippi, Montana, Alabama and Louisiana and says surges are showing up in other states. At Harvard’s Beth Israel Deconess Medical Center, a new report says “Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 appear to escape antibody responses among both people who had previous Covid-19 infection and those who have been fully vaccinated and boosted.”
“We observed 3-fold reductions of neutralizing antibody titers induced by vaccination and infection against BA4 and BA5 compared with BA1 and BA2, which are already substantially lower than the original COVID-19 variants,” says Dr. Dan Barouch, an author of the paper and director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, in an email.
“Our data suggest that these new Omicron subvariants will likely be able to lead to surges of infections in populations with high levels of vaccine immunity as well as natural BA1 and BA2 immunity,” Barouch wrote. “However, it is likely that vaccine immunity will still provide substantial protection against severe disease with BA4 and BA5.”
Our data suggest that COVID-19 still has the capacity to mutate further, resulting in increased transmissibility and increased antibody escape. As pandemic restrictions are lifted, it is important that we remain vigilant and keep studying new variants and subvariants as they emerge.
To make matters worse, a growing number of Americans are suffering “long Covid-19,” with symptoms and threats that can linger for months or even years.
About 7.5% of U.S. adults—roughly 20 million people—are currently living with Long COVID symptoms, according to new federal data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
That finding, drawn from the Household Pulse Survey run in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, is based on self-reported data from about 62,000 U.S. adults surveyed in June. More than 40% of respondents said they’d previously had COVID-19. And about one in five of those individuals said they still had Long COVID symptoms, defined as new health issues—like fatigue, cognitive issues, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and more—lasting at least three months after infection.
This damn virus remains among us and it keeps finding ways to infect, and re-infect, far too many.