PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The coronavirus continues to increase in Pennsylvania. Many of the new cases are related to students returning to school. The Pennsylvania secretary of health raised concerns Wednesday about the upcoming flu season and COVID-19 patients having prolonged symptoms.
About a third of the people infected with COVID-19 do not recover as expected in a few weeks. Many of them are younger people with no underlying medical conditions. It’s a concern for health officials who are now ramping up for another wave of the coronavirus, along with the flu.
“I have concerns about a potential increase of cases as we enter the fall,” Dr. Rachel Levine said Wednesday.
The secretary of health says Pennsylvania will probably get a double whammy of increased COVID-19 cases along with seasonal flu. The cooler temperatures and reduced humidity could help increase transmission and more people will be inside, where both viruses can spread more easily.
“That’s a potentially very serious, serious issue,” Levine said. “No one knows what happens if you get COVID-19 and influenza at the same time, which highlights the extreme importance of getting a flu shot this year.”
The Aston Community Center in Delaware County is among many locations where flu shots are being given. In addition to concerns about the upcoming flu season, Levine said there’s growing evidence about COVID-19 patients having prolonged symptoms.
“Long-term impacts from COVID-19 are more likely to affect women than men,” Levine said. “A study from France found an average age of COVID-19 long haulers of 40 years of age, and many of those long haulers are health care workers who maybe had a significant exposure to the virus.”
It’s unclear how Kayla Swift was infected with COVID-19 after being initially hospitalized. She’s still suffering months later.
“Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be able to live along again,” Swift said.
It’s unclear why certain patients have prolonged symptoms that can include crushing headaches, nerve pain, brain fog, hair loss and extreme fatigue.
“I beat coronavirus, but it’s beating me back,” Swift said.
Levine urged Pennsylvania to download the commonwealth’s new contact tracing app. So far, she said nearly 174,000 people had done so as of Wednesday. Pennsylvania is home to about 12.8 million people.
It’s unclear how many people need to download the app in order for it to be effective.